Prayer vigils, Go Fund Me account organized in aftermath of fatal shooting in Cleveland Wednesday

Liberty County sheriff's investigators, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety and Cleveland ISD Police Officer John Shannon investigate the scene at Big Thicket Animal Hospital in Tarkington where Shannon and Liberty County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Whitten were involved in an exchange of gunfire with the suspect in a fatal shooting in Cleveland.

By Vanesa Brashier,

Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Whitten’s medical condition has been downgraded from “stable” to “critical,” according to Capt. Ken DeFoor, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office.

“There are some medical issues that have arisen that doctors will have to address,” said DeFoor, adding that he could not go into specifics because of medical privacy laws.

Whitten, a four-year deputy with Liberty County, was struck in the left side of his neck by a bullet Wednesday morning during an exchange of gunfire with Pavol Vido, 65, outside of Big Thicket Animal Hospital, 24890 SH 321, in Tarkington. Whitten was off-duty at the time. Whitten and Cleveland ISD Police Officer John Shannon were involved in the confrontation with Vido. Shannon was not injured.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Whitten

Hours later, after an extensive manhunt that caused Cleveland and Tarkington schools to be locked down and forced the closure of SH 321 between Tarkington and Cleveland, Vido committed suicide after being cornered by law enforcement at a property on CR 2247 in Tarkington.

Before the encounter with law enforcement, Vido fatally shot one woman and shot two others inside “B” Dependable Plumbing, located in the 26300 block of SH 321, in Cleveland. The shooting was reported to authorities around 7:30 a.m.

As of Thursday evening, May 30, the names of the other victims are still being withheld by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is handling all media statements as the investigation is now under the authority of the Texas Rangers.


Wednesday’s tragic events have left three victims still recovering in area hospitals while another person’s family is mourning her loss. Local churches and groups are planning vigils in the coming days to lift up the victims and their families in prayer.

The first vigil is slated for Friday, May 31, 10 a.m., at the Cleveland Historical Museum, 203 E. Booth St., Cleveland, and is being organized by City Chaplain Lance Blackwell and Cleveland resident Mary Cruz.

The second vigil will take place on Monday, June 3, 6:30 p.m., at Church That Cares, 21 County Road 2281 in Tarkington. Refreshments will follow in the church’s fellowship hall.

The vigils are open to the community and anyone with an interest is invited to attend.

On June 22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Trinity Armory in Cleveland will host a benefit to help offset the medical expenses incurred by Deputy Whitten. Trinity Armory is partnering with Liberty County Sheriff’s Special Response Team and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Special Response Team. The benefit will include auctions, food sales and live music. Organizers say they are still working out the specific details and will post updated information on Facebook at

A Go Fund Me page also has been established to help with funeral and medical expenses of the victims. To make a donation, go online to

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