Suspect in String of Seemingly Random TX Homicides Arrested

Shane James | Image by Austin Police Department

A man is in police custody after allegedly going on a shooting spree, leaving six dead and three more injured in Austin and the San Antonio area.

Shane James, 34, was booked into the Travis County jail in Austin in the early hours of December 6 on four counts of capital murder after allegedly gunning down several people in a day-long spree for no apparent reason.

At the time of his arrest, police discovered that James had three outstanding arrest warrants for assault causing injury to a family member dating from 2022. The arrest warrants were re-issued after he had bonded out of jail for these charges with help from the Texas Organizing Project, a non-profit group known to advocate for bail reform. He cut off his ankle monitor the very next day, which was not a felony offense at the time.

Parolees or accused criminals released on bail, especially those who remove their ankle monitors, going on to commit further crimes has elicited much debate over related policy.

For instance, a study in Dallas found that 56% of suspects accused of violent crimes or weapons violations had been released on bail or on their own recognizance as a result of the bail reform initiated by District Attorney John Creuzot. Creuzot has been accused of being soft on crime and letting allegedly violent criminals out on the streets to hurt others, as reported by The Dallas Express.

James was arrested on the evening of December 5 after allegedly firing at and wounding an Austin police officer responding to reports of a burglary at a residence in the 5300 block of Austral Loop. The suspect allegedly fled the scene and led law enforcement in a high-speed chase that ended when he crashed his vehicle. Two dead bodies were later recovered inside the home where the burglary had been reported.

That same day, James was said to have shot an Austin Independent School District officer in the leg near Northeast Early College High School at roughly 10:40 a.m. He is then alleged to have killed a man and woman in the 7300 block of Shadywood Drive at around noon.

“Austin 911 communications received multiple calls for help,” said Austin PD Interim Chief of Police Robin Henderson, according to KSAT.

James also allegedly shot and wounded a man riding a bike in the 5700 block of West Slaughter Lane shortly before 5 p.m. This was not far from the residence on Austral Loop, where he was confronted by police.

“We strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents,” Henderson said. “The suspect is in custody and no longer poses a threat to our Austin community.”

None of the Austin victims’ names have been released yet.

Gov. Greg Abbott addressed the multiple attacks on citizens and uniformed officers on duty alike, expressing condolences for the victims and calling for swift punishment of the perpetrator.

“Texans grieve for the loved ones of the six Texans who were murdered by a hardened criminal who must never see the light of day again. The murderer also shot two law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Texas is a law-and-order state, and violence will never be tolerated. We thank all state and local law enforcement and first responders who apprehended this criminal and protected their communities. The State of Texas will provide all resources necessary to impose the full weight of law on this criminal for his despicable crimes,” he said.

Upon James’ arrest, Austin police contacted the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies conducted a wellness check on his registered address in the Mission Hill community near Kirby. The bodies of his parents, Phyllis James and Shane James Sr., were discovered inside.

“I’m not quite sure what’s at the root of it, but … nobody deserves to die the way we believed that they died,” said Sheriff Javier Salazar, noting that they were believed to have been killed prior to the string of shootings in Austin.

The case against James is still under investigation, but the Travis County District Attorney’s Office said that he will likely remain in police custody until his trial, according to CNN.

There have been a few apparent spree shootings in North Texas this year. For instance, in September, a suspect in Fair Park was said to have shot four people, one of whom died, as previously covered in The Dallas Express. Dallas police identified Jeremiah Moore, 27, as the culprit, and he was arrested that same day in the Texas Panhandle.

The murder rate in Dallas continues to climb amid a significant police shortage, with DPD fielding fewer than 3,200 officers despite a City report recommending 4,000. As of December 6, there had been 229 murders and non-negligent homicides logged in the City’s crime analytics dashboard. This is a 12.3% hike from the year prior over the same period.

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