December 24, 2008 in Nation/World

Ex-trooper suspected in Dallas shootings

Two killed, one hurt in four incidents
By JEFF CARLTON Associated Press
 
Tags:Texas

DALLAS – A man suspected in a series of rush-hour shootings near Dallas is a former Utah state trooper wanted on burglary and robbery warrants who apparently shot himself after a standoff with police, authorities said Tuesday.

Brian Smith, 37, killed at least one of the victims of Monday’s shootings, Dallas police Lt. Craig Miller said. Investigators tied Smith to a killing in Dallas by matching the bullets found at the standoff, he said.

“We feel safe in saying (Smith) … was the shooter,” Miller said.

Dallas police declined to comment on a second death in neighboring Garland, where the standoff took place, because it was out of their jurisdiction.

Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said his department has not been able to make a definitive connection between Smith and the killing there, but acknowledged that he fit the description of the highway shooter: a balding, 40ish white man.

“We certainly hope it is him,” Harn said. “But we are going to have to see more concrete evidence.”

Two people were shot and killed and another person was injured by broken glass in four shootings along or near a Dallas-area highway Monday evening. Police believe the victims were selected at random.

Smith was in critical condition Tuesday night at a Dallas hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said he shot himself in the head early Tuesday morning after a brief standoff more than six hours after the shootings.

Smith had been a Utah state trooper since 1996 but retired in May because of “personal issues,” said Sgt. Jeff Nigbur, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The crime spree appears to have begun in Garland, where a man police identified as Smith jumped over a pharmacy counter at a grocery store and stole Oxycontin pills.

Minutes later, a driver pulled up alongside a small Nissan stopped at a red light and began shooting, Harn said. The Nissan’s driver, 20-year-old Jorge “George” Lopez, of Rowlett, was killed.

Minutes later on the same highway, a gunman shot and killed 42-year-old William Scott Miller, the driver of a United Van Lines rig, police Lt. Craig Miller said. Police said the driver, who was about to fly home to his wife and two young daughters in Frankfort, Ky., for the holidays, was able to bring his truck safely to a stop before he died.

“The act he did in and of itself I consider to be heroic,” Lt. Miller said. “Despite being mortally wounded, he was able to control his rig to the point where other drivers weren’t injured.”

After the shooting of Miller, another semitrailer was fired on a half-mile away on the same interstate. The driver, 46-year-old Gary Roberts, was injured by debris and glass but not struck by any bullets.

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