An “ambush” is how authorities described an incident between a suspect and law enforcement in Wimberley Friday that left one Hays County Sheriff’s deputy wounded and a man dead.
At approximately 3:47 a.m. Friday, the Hays County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call about a possible male suspect with a gun breaking into Jean’s Antiques on Ranch Road 12 in Wimberley.
Upon arrival, deputies found no evidence of a break in at the antique store, Gary Cutler, Hays County Sheriff, said in a press conference.
Deputies were then dispatched roughly a quarter of a mile up the road, where Cutler described what is thought to be an attempted ambush by Rocky Miles West, 26, of Wimberley.
West was allegedly hiding behind a three-foot rock wall where he opened fire on the four officers hitting the sides of their patrol vehicles and wounding Deputy Benjamin Gieselman, 28.
Shots were fired from a close range of approximately 20 yards, Cutler said. Deputies returned shots and the suspect retreated into a nearby wooded area where deputies later located the body.
It is not yet known if the suspect’s wounds were self-inflicted.
The suspect fired approximately nine rounds with what Cutler described as a 12-gauge pump shotgun. Several types of ammunition were found including birdshot and buck shot pellets.
Gieselman, a three-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office, was flown to a hospital in the Austin area with wounds from several bird shot pellets in his leg and upper body. According to reports, Gieselman was released from the hospital Sunday.
The individual described in the 911 call was described as wearing the same clothes as West; a preliminary investigation shows that it was West who placed the call. The dispatchers believed that the caller was possibly a resident who lived above the antique shop according to phone records.
“At this point in time, it looks like it was him that made the call, but we do still have a lot of tapes and investigation to go through,” Cutler said.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing by the Hays County Sheriff’s Officer Criminal Investigations Division, as well as an independent investigation by the Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers Office.
“Initial impressions of this are apparently a suspect attempting to ambush police officers,” Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said. “It does at this point appear that officers were ambushed and the suspect was killed by officers, but we’re going to wait for final results of the investigation to make a final determination.”
The suspect has a criminal history with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and has a record that spans 14 years. His most recent arrest was in January for a family violence charge of assault with bodily injury. West also had an interaction with the Sheriff’s Office in October. No previous violence with officers has been reported.
Officials said deputies went through night fire training last week. Cutler said the department was lucky the incident didn’t turn out worse.
“It could have ended a whole lot worse. They did an excellent job. I commend the officers for their job. You gotta understand these officers were very lucky. Their cars got shot pretty good,” Cutler said.