Smith County Courthouse Shooting: One Year Later - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Smith County Courthouse Shooting: One Year Later

Dispatch: "911 emergency. Police, fire or ambulance?"

Caller: "Yes, Tyler County courthouse, you got a guy down."

Dispatch: "Tyler 911 is this police, fire or ambulance?"

Caller: "We got a guy firing shots at the courthouse."

The frightening gunshots send downtown Tyler into a frenzy.

Dispatch: "Oh man, [the gunshots] are coming from what appears to be a Hispanic male, looks like in front of the old Levine's store."

The gunman was David Hernandez Arroyo. The motive behind his rage: a bitter custody battle between his wife Maribel Estrada. She would be his first victim, lying dead on the steps of the courthouse. Arroyo next went for his eldest son, David, Jr. But his life was spared when Arroyo was engaged by an armed civilian, Mark Wilson. Arroyo's body armor would be too much and Wilson was executed to the horror of witnesses.
  Law enforcement too responded to Arroyo's shooting rampage. A bullet grazed Lt. Marlin Suell's ear and skull. "As I fired shots at him it was just--nothing phased him," says Suell. But it was Deputy Sherman Dollison who bravely went into the line of fire. He was the most critically injured, shot five times.
  For the first time he's taken back to the scene of the shooting, where he gave a Caliber Press reporter a detailed account of what happened. "At that time he was steadily moving this way," explains Dollison. "I went out over to the grass over here and I guess at that time he realized where the shots were coming from and he turned on me. And that's when I felt the first round hit me, like I said I don't know where it hit. The best I could think of was my leg. Because it didn't immobilize me, I was still able to get up. And I was right about here and he was right over here and we were just returning fire. I guess after I shot that second time he kind of got mad and tried to finish me off. He hit me four more times but he didn't do it." Dollison has been proclaimed as a hero, drawing gunfire away from innocent bystanders on the square that day. But he says there are others more worthy of that title. "I mean the guys that were there that got me to the hospital in time they're heroes," says Dollison. "What I did was part of my job, not to be heroic or nothing like that. It was to protect the people of this community and the people he was firing at. But I don't think of myself as a hero."
  After gunning Dollison down, Arroyo took off in his pickup and the police chase began. Sergeant Rusty Jacks jumps on the hood of this cruiser. "Like I said that's nothing we teach, nothing we practice, nothing I would really suggest. Unless we encountered the same exact situation," says Jacks.
  The terror would finally end on Highway 271, when another gun battle ensued as Arroyo fires shots at a deputy. Then he would fall to the ground after he was hit by a single bullet to the head. The reality of what happened would begin to set in. "Who would have ever thought in a midday in a sleepy little town of Tyler, Texas that a crazy would walk up with a bullet proof vest on and start killing people," says Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith in disbelief. For some the memories of the Smith County Courthouse shooting are still fresh one year later. For many others what happened on February 24, 2005 will never be forgotten.
  Officials raided Arroyo's home and truck, collecting additional weapons and live rounds of ammunition. Last June, the investigation into the courthouse shooting was closed and some of the evidence was destroyed.

Christine Nelson reporting.

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