03/01/2001

Man dies in shootout with deputies
[Fredericksburg, TX]

M.B. Taboada, American-Statesman Staff
February 26, 2001, Monday
Copyright 2001 The Austin American-Statesman
Austin American-Statesman
February 26, 2001, Monday

(FREDERICKSBURG, Texas) -- A Gillespie County man was killed in a shootout that left a sheriff's deputy slightly injured with a bullet lodged in the front of his bulletproof vest.

Deputy Walter Todd and another officer were serving an arrest warrant Saturday night to Gerald Howard Jr. for making threats to neighbors, Sheriff Milton Young said.

Deputies were approaching Howard's home on RM 1631 when they saw him driving and began to follow him, according to police. Shortly after Howard arrived at his property, he jumped from his vehicle and fired several shots from a 9 mm handgun but missed Deputy James Segner, Young said.

Both officers initially fired back with pistols but quickly switched to assault rifles, Young said.

Howard's first shot at Todd struck the deputy in the chest, Young said. Though staggered, Todd continued to return fire . He was airlifted to University Hospital in San Antonio and released that night with a deep bruise .

Howard was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene.

Young did not know how many shots were exchanged .

"Both vehicles are full of bullet holes," he said. "You would think that both (deputies) were dead."

The Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident. Rangers on Sunday interviewed Todd, who is on medical leave . He also met with a counselor. Segner, who was not hurt , was placed on administrative leave , a routine measure in police shootings.

"I thought it was handled well by our officers," Young said. "I'm just happy that none of my people were killed."

This was not the first time the department has had a run-in with Howard, Young said. In the past 20 years, he has been charged with disorderly conduct, public intoxication and assaults on peace officers. Five of the charges were dismissed in October.

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