Gunman dies after firing shots at suburban Dallas police station; college campus shut down

By Schuyler Dixon, AP
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gunman dies after firing at suburban Dallas police

McKINNEY, Texas — A man drove a pickup truck loaded with ammunition into a suburban Dallas police station’s parking lot on Tuesday, set the truck on fire and exchanged gunfire with police before he was found dead at the scene, officials said.

McKinney Deputy Police Chief Scott Brewer said the man was shouting as the truck became engulfed in flames and the ammunition inside began exploding. The still-unidentified gunman then began shooting toward the police station and there was a “brief exchange of gunfire,” he said.

The gunman was the only casualty, and Brewer said it wasn’t immediately clear how he died.

Police didn’t immediately have a motive for the attack and didn’t know whether the man planned the attack alone, he said.

“We believe there is just one shooter at this point in time,” Brewer told reporters at McKinney City Hall. The police station sits amid a large cornfield near Collin College in the suburb of roughly 127,000 people about 30 miles north of Dallas.

Matt Payne told The Associated Press he was on his way to work his wife and 10-year-old son when they heard “this popping sound” while they waited at a red light near the police station. They drove in front of the station and saw the truck engulfed in flames before looking across the street and seeing a man in an open field in an olive-colored flak jacket and carrying what looked like a military-style rifle.

A campus police vehicle drove around a building and the man turned his weapon toward the officer’s car before gunfire broke out, Payne said.

“He was not hidden at all,” Payne said. “It was obvious that he intended to go and hurt people and wasn’t real concerned about whether he made it or not.”

Ed Leathers, Collin College’s police chief, said the gunman shot several times at a campus officer’s patrol car. One of the bullets penetrated the back of the vehicle and would have struck the officer if it hadn’t been stopped by a metal plate behind the back seat, part of the safety divider that separates officers from those in the back, he said.

“He came one inch from being killed possibly,” Leathers said. “The bullet went straight for his back and lodged in that plate.”

Leathers said the officer, a veteran of more than 20 years of police work, was on a routine patrol when he came across the gunman. He said there was a shotgun in the vehicle, but the officer never got a chance to use it.

Several other campus officers were then dispatched to the scene, but none discharged their weapons, he said.

Leathers said bullets from the shootout also penetrated a metal building on campus. School employees were in the building, which is mainly used for records, but none were hurt, he said.

Leathers said the incident was the first time in the 10 years his department has existed that there has been shooting on or near the campus.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said Texas Rangers, highway patrol and DPS aircraft were on the scene or headed to the area. Vinger could provide no further details.

The Collin County Community College District sent an e-mail alert to college staff and students shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday warning that shots had been fired and that the central campus in McKinney was closed.

The e-mail said: “Shots fired. Campus on lockdown. Cops on the scene. Details to follow.”

Associated Press writers Diana Heidgerd and Danny Robbins in Dallas contributed to this report.

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