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Family members shocked after former Tyler resident charged in Dallas shootings

Erbie L. Bowser (Source: Facebook) Erbie L. Bowser (Source: Facebook)

The suspect arrested in connection with the fatal shootings of four people in two Dallas area homes on Wednesday night is an East Texas native. Thursday, Erbie Lee Bowser, 44, formerly of Tyler, is charged with four counts of capital murder.

Bowser is a Robert E. Lee High School graduate. He was also an athlete. Family members say he received a scholarship to play football at Texas Christian University. Bowser's aunt, who lives in Tyler, says this is not the Erbie she knows. She says he was raised by good people to be a good person.

Four other people were also wounded in the attacks Wednesday night.

The first shooting took place at a house in southwest Dallas. The second shooting happened about 15 minutes later in DeSoto, some 10 miles away, says Dallas police Sgt. Warren Mitchell.

Relatives of the victims shot in the south Dallas home say they became worried when they couldn't get in touch with their loved ones who lived here. So, they drove to the home to check on them.

"The lights were on and I knocked on the door and nobody answered. So, my other grandbaby knocked on the window and we could hear somebody gasping for breath in there. He said, 'Grandma they're listening to headphones,' and I said, 'No. That's not headphones,'" recalls Lurlean Smith while breaking down in tears.

Inside the home, Smith, found her grandson and her granddaughter's friend. They were both shot but still alive.

"She fell in my arms and she was bleeding and I moved her back to the sofa. That's when I saw my grand baby there," says Smith.

Smith's granddaughter, 17-year-old Tasmia Allen had been shot in the head. Smith's daughter, 43-year-old Toya Smith was dead, too.

"Hopefully they didn't suffer long," says Smith while crying.

According to police, when Bowser was identified as a suspect, Dallas police contacted authorities in the suburb of Desoto, where Bowser has ties to another address.

"While they were en route to that location to check up on that, almost simultaneously, they received a 911 call from a resident inside that house... from a child who was talking about the events that were occurring in the house," says Desoto Police Corporal Melissa Franks.

Desoto Police say Bowser threw a grenade into that home, and then went inside and shot four people. Those people were identified as Bower's estranged wife and three children. The woman, Zina Teal-Bowser, and her teenage daughter, Neima Williams, were killed.

Police say when they arrested Bowser at the Desoto scene, he was pretending to be one of the victims. They also say he was repeating his name, military rank and serial number to police at the crime scene. According to military records, Bowser did serve in the army for nearly a decade.

Bowser's family says he was distant after his time in the service, but they say something else must have happened to him.

His aunt Rosie King said, "Erbie wouldn't hurt anyone... especially those babies."

Bowser's step-father says Bowser was "going through a hard time" and that "everyone makes mistakes." He says Boswer has a good heart despite what happened.

According to his Facebook page, Bowser also attended Hawaii Pacific and has a Masters in Business Administration from Amberton University and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Texas A&M Commerce. 

The Dallas Mavericks said Thursday that Bowser was a dancer for the team, performing with the Dallas Mavs ManiAACs. The team describes the dance troupe as "beefy men" who entertain fans during games. Bowser danced with the group from 2002 to 2009.

Bowser worked for nearly a decade as a special education teacher in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite. School district spokeswoman Laura Jobe said Thursday he resigned in 2010 "on good terms." He also worked for a couple of seasons as a football coach at West Mesquite High School, she said.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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