By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: The shooting suspect has been found deceased from a gunshot wound, according to Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader. More updates will be posted as they come in.
One person was killed and two others were critically injured Wednesday morning when a shooter opened fire at B Dependable Plumbing, located in the 26300 block of SH 321, in Cleveland. The shooting was reported to authorities around 7:30 a.m.
A deputy responding to a search for the suspect was shot when he tried to apprehend him outside of Big Thicket Animal Hospital, 24890 SH 321. The suspect, Pavol Vido, 65, reportedly shot Deputy Richard Whitten in the neck and was involved in an exchange of gunfire with Whitten and Cleveland ISD Police Officer John Shannon. The suspect fled the scene in a 2004 Grand Marquis, which was located a couple of hours later on CR 2247 in Tarkington.
At this time, the suspect is still at large. It’s unknown if he was injured in the shooting. Authorities say he should be considered armed and dangerous. If residents encounter the suspect, do not attempt to apprehend him. Call 911 instead and report his location.
He is described as a white male with gray hair, around 5′ 11″ tall. No details were provided on his clothing type, eye color or other distinguishable features.
Texas DPS Sgt. Eric Burse, who is handling all public information regarding the shooting, along with Capt. Ken DeFoor with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, says the motive for the shooting is unknown. However, other sources in law enforcement say that Vido was living in a building behind the B Dependable Plumbing building and was being evicted by the owners of the property. When asked, Burse could not confirm.
Burse said that law enforcement agencies are using every means possible to bring the situation to a safe conclusion. K-9 units are searching the woods, DPS is using helicopters with armed officers, and SWAT teams from multiple agencies, including Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, are looking for the suspect in the Cleveland and Tarkington area.
With the suspect still at large, Cleveland and Tarkington schools locked down campuses to ensure student and faculty safety.
Authorities have not released the names of the other shooting victims but they were employees or owners of the plumbing business. The fatality was an older woman who reportedly worked as a secretary for the business.
What is known about the suspect
His criminal history includes arrests for Evading Police, Deadly Conduct, Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon and Driving While Intoxicated. He was acquitted on the Aggravated Assault charge in 1991 and received jail time and probation for the DWI in 1992. The Evading Arrest charge was dismissed in 1993 and he was acquitted by a jury for the Deadly Conduct charge in 1995.
Multiple agencies respond, community members step up to help
When the call for help went out on police radios, law enforcement officers from agencies throughout Liberty County and contiguous immediately responded, helping with everything from assisting in the investigation and directing traffic. Cleveland Fire Department also helped with traffic control.
Liberty County District Attorney Logan Pickett said the response was overwhelming.
“Whenever we call for assistance, it’s just amazing to see how many people show up. We definitely appreciate all the help we get,” Pickett said.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Cleveland ISD PD, Cleveland PD, Dayton PD, Liberty PD, Patton Village PD, Chambers County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Pct. 1 Constable’s Office, Pct. 3 Constable’s Office, Pct. 5 Constable’s Office, Pct. 6 Constable’s Office, the Texas Rangers and DPS were among the responding agencies.
Local restaurant, El Burrito, delivered 100 plates of food to officers who were set up in a command station inside Smith Towing of Cleveland. Church That Cares in Tarkington is also helping out with food and drinks.