AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A man is suspected of killing six people Shooting in two major cities of Texas She was confronted by sheriff's deputies during a mental health crisis in August and could have been arrested on a violation for cutting off the ankle monitor.
Instead, deputies released Shane James Jr. – who was naked and barricaded behind a bedroom door, yelling obscenities at deputies – with his family.
If the encounter had occurred exactly a month later when new state law made cutting an ankle monitor a state prison felony, deputies could have pulled James out of the room and arrested him.
James, 34, has now been charged with two counts of capital murder after authorities say he left a trail of violence from his parents' home in the San Antonio area to Austin on Tuesday. Authorities said James killed his parents, Phyllis and Shane James Sr., before driving about 80 miles (129 kilometers) to Austin, killing four more people and three others, including two Austin police officers. were injured.
Emmanuel Pop Ba, 32, and Sabrina Rahman, 24, were two of those killed in the violence, Austin police said.
Texas lawmakers approved changes to the ankle monitor law that would have allowed James to be detained earlier this year. was inspired by Deadly shooting at Dallas hospital in October 2022, in which the shooter had a history of tampering with his ankle monitor.
James was arrested on domestic violence charges in January 2022 for attacking his parents and a sibling. The family later asked that he be released from jail. James cut the ankle monitor the day after his release in March 2022. At the time, cutting off an ankle monitor was just a parole violation.
In August this year deputies were called to James's parents' home due to his erratic behavior. The law, which made tampering with an ankle monitor a state prison felony punishable by up to two years in prison, does not take effect until Sept. 1.
At a briefing Wednesday, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar described the encounter with James in August.
James locked himself in a bedroom and shouted racist epithets and other insults at the deputies. Salazar said that at the time, officers had limited access to forcible entry on misdemeanor warrants compared to felony charges.
James' father forced the door partially open, but the deputies left without taking younger James into custody. He instructed the family to call him when he came out and they would arrest him, the sheriff said, but they never received a call.
"It's always possible we could have done more," Salazar said. "Although we wish the opportunity had presented itself to lay hands on him, there is no doubt in my mind that if deputies had been able to safely lay hands on him, it would have happened."
Salazar said that at the time it was not a criminal offense to disconnect an ankle monitor, but their procedures have changed since the new law went into effect. Now, when a suspect cuts off his ankle monitor the agency is notified, and the appropriate felony charge is filed. “In March 2022, unfortunately, that law did not exist,” Salazar said.
Andy Kahn, director of victim services for Crime Stoppers of Houston, advocated for the law passed earlier this year. He said about a dozen states have similar measures and James' interaction with police highlights their importance.
"He would have been taken into custody and there are likely more than six people alive today," Kahn said.
Kahn convened a task force to identify other people who may have had their ankle monitors removed. "The question for the state of Texas is how many others are wanted in the same manner," he said.
Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.
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