At a press conference this afternoon, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman announced that Shannon J. Miles, 30, a person who had been in custody since early this morning, has been arrested and charged with capital murder.
Deputy Darren Goforth, 47, was killed in cold blood last night at a northwest Harris County gas station. He had left an accident scene at around 8:30pm when he stopped by a gas station on Telge and West Road. As he was pumping gas, detectives say Miles approached him from behind, said nothing and fired multiple shots. Once the deputy fell to the ground, authorities say Miles fired more shots. Deputy Goforth was pronounced dead on the scene.
See photos in the case
Earlier today, Hickman, along with other county officials made a plea to the public for anyone who knows anything about the fatal shooting of Deputy Goforth to come forward. Asked at the second press conference, why he asked for the public's help if he already had someone in custody, Hickman said he had to be sure.
"We always want to make sure we leave no stone unturned because people who were at the scene who we have not talked to yet may have more details to help solidify our case," said Hickman.
A motive remains unclear. Officials say Deputy Goforth had no previous interaction with Miles.
Miles has a criminal history that includes Resisting arrest, trespassing, evading detention and disorderly conduct with a firearm.
In an earlier press conference, Sheriff Hickman called on anyone who might have any information on the shooting to come forward.
"From video retrieved form the location, we know that other individuals drove up to the service station as this incident was going on," said Hickman. "We ask them to come forward with information that will help us in this investigation."
"It's time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement," added Harris County DA Devon Anderson, who joined Sheriff Hickman at Saturday's news conference.
An intense manhunt covered Harris County for hours late last night into this morning. At about 2:30am, authorities converged on a home on Crystal Lake in Copperfield, led there by a tip. The focus of the investigation is on the red pickup truck in the home's driveway. That's where the person of interest was found, and the truck towed. That person's identity has not been released.
The man's mother -- who didn't want to show her face or give her name -- told Eyewitness News her son didn't commit any crime. She said, "My son is innocent. I was in the house with him, so when that happened, my son was home."
Goforth was a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff's Office, assigned to the west district patrol. He leaves behind a wife who is a school teacher and two children.
"We have 5- and 12-year-old children who are left behind," said Rick Harley with 100 Cub. "The 30,000 members of the 100 Club will make sure those children have an opportunity to go to the college of their choice when the time is appropriate."
Harley added that if the sheriff needs it, Crime Stoppers and the 100 Club have teamed up to double the reward money in the case.
Goforth's brother-in-law, Stephen Allison, 46, told ABC News today Goforth was the "rock" in the family and "was just a solid individual."
Allison said Goforth didn't become a police officer until he was in his 30s and he loved his vocation. "He really felt the brotherhood in the community," Allison said. "It was his calling ... he wanted to spend his whole life in it once he got in it. ... He was kind of born for it."
On his days off, Allison said Goforth helped his father with his business. Allison said Goforth was "a good dad" and "just a giving individual."
Speaking of his death, Allison said "it was just something that you don't expect to ever happen."
He added, "You forget how dangerous that profession is."
Officers had described the suspect only as a dark-complexioned man who's about 5 feet 11 inches tall. He had short hair, possibly a fade cut. He was wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts at the time of the shooting and fled the scene in a dark red Ford Ranger.
"It strikes us all at the heart of public service," said Hickman, who vowed to hunt the suspect down. ""I've been in law enforcement 45 years. I don't recall another incident this cold-blooded and cowardly."
"It's an act of cowardice and brutality the likes of which I've never seen," said Anderson.
Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls tweeted this message of support this morning: "Despite the cowardice attack last night, we will continue to provide professional (law enforcement) services to our communities. Be careful out there."
Despite the cowardice attack last night, we will continue to provide professional LE services to our communities. Be careful out there.— Sheriff Troy Nehls (@SheriffTNehls) August 29, 2015
Dr. Kevin Pigg, Senior Pastor of Crossbridge Christian Church, felt moved to come out and pray with deputies overnight.
"That just rips my heart out, seeing anyone die, especially one who protects us like that," he said. "You could just see the officers holding back the tears. I just felt led to pray with them."
A witness named Mackenzie, who declined use of her last name, heard the shots ring out.
"We were driving on West Road and we heard the shots, and when I turned and looked, the lady was screaming over top of him. So we busted a U-turn into the parking lot and that's when we saw what had happened," she said.
This was an unprovoked attack. Deputy Goforth left behind a wife and two children. Please continue to pray during this difficult time.— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) August 29, 2015
The witness says she saw a woman sobbing over Deputy Goforth's body.
"She was laying on top him. She was saying that was her best friend and that he had two kids," Mackenzie said.
Tonight we lost one of our brothers. This is an extremely difficult time right now for the Harris County Sheriff's Office. #ThinBlueLine— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) August 29, 2015
Mackenzie says the suspect was gone by the time she had pulled into the parking lot and called 911.
This shooting marks the first time a Texas law enforcement officer was fatally shot this year. This is the first officer slaying in the Houston-area since 2012.
Bob Goerlitz, president of the Harris County Deputies Organization, said the incident was "shocking."
"We've been warned of things like this, because of public sentiment nationally and events over the last few years ... It's just horrific. That's the only way to describe it."
Our hearts are heavy as we offer our condolences to the men and women of the Harris County Sheriff's Office keep... http://t.co/yI1K1yjult— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) August 29, 2015
We've learned the non-profit, the 100 Club, is assisting Goforth's family. The 62-year-old organization said today they will give the family a $20,000 check to help with any financial needs. The organization added in a statement today, "Additional financial support for the dependent family, which averages $300,000 per tragedy, will be made after an assessment of their needs is conducted."