September 10, 2007 in Nation/World

Officers killed on domestic dispute call

Betsy Blaney Associated Press

ODESSA, Texas – A gunman shot and killed two police officers and critically injured a third while the officers were responding to a report of a domestic dispute at the man’s house, authorities said.

After the shootings Saturday night, the suspected gunman, 58-year-old Larry White, held police in a four-hour standoff until he surrendered around 10 p.m., Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said.

Investigators say a woman called authorities around 6:15 p.m. Saturday. When police arrived, she came out and told officers her husband had hit her, Mange said. White’s wife then went inside next-door neighbor Raymond Graham’s house to use his phone, the neighbor said.

Police were unable to enter the house through the front door. When they tried to go in the back door, a man began firing at them. He came out of the house and continued shooting before retreating inside, Mange said.

Graham said he and White’s wife were standing near a window in his home when gunfire erupted.

“She said, ‘Larry’s drunk and they’re going to talk him down,’ ” Graham said. “And then – bam, bam, bam, bam – he opened fire on (the officers),” who had their guns drawn as they made their way into White’s backyard.

Killed were Cpls. Arlie Jones, 48, and John “Scott” Gardner, 30. Cpl. Abel Marquez, 32, who was shot in the face with buckshot, remained hospitalized in Lubbock in critical condition.

Graham said the officers returned fire after they were hit.

White, who was shot in the abdomen, was transferred from the hospital to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center and booked on two counts of capital murder and three counts of attempted capital murder, police said. No attorney was listed for White on his book-in sheet; it wasn’t immediately clear if he had one.

Graham described White as an avid hunter who liked guns and often drank beer during the day. Police had been called to the home at least three times in the past 10 years, Graham said.

“But all the previous times it was nonviolent,” he said. “Never anything involving gunfire. He’d get drunk and he’d get a little pushy.

“I can’t believe he snapped,” he said. “Something made him tweak.”

Graham said White’s wife told Jones and Gardner that she had locked her husband’s guns in the trunk of her older model Mercedes Benz inside the couple’s garage last weekend.

Graham said White was diagnosed with stomach cancer about two years ago and given six months to live, but the disease was in remission.

The officers’ deaths were the first by gunfire in the department’s history, and doubled the number killed in the line of duty, Mange said.

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