A Texas sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed at his home north of Austin before dawn on Monday in what authorities said appeared to be an attempted burglary.
Sgt. Craig Hutchinson of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office used his police radio around 1:30 a.m. to report people prowling behind his house. Investigators arriving moments later found Hutchinson lying on the ground in his backyard in Round Rock, about 15 miles from Austin.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton said at a news conference that no arrests have been made but that authorities are seeking an unknown number of suspects. He said there was evidence that the incident was an attempted burglary of Hutchinson’s backyard shed, rather than someone targeting a law enforcement officer.
Tensions remain high following the fatal shooting earlier this month of five police officers in Dallas and the ambush and killing of three law enforcement officers in Louisiana.
“There’s no suggestion that this was an ambush,” Hamilton said. “I heard that there’s a lot of burglaries going on in this community, and I think this was just one of the burglaries.”
He said investigators believed items were taken from Hutchinson’s shed and that the officer may have “seen individuals in the shed, and I think that’s where the confrontation occurred.”
Round Rock Police Department spokeswoman Angelique Myers said investigators were asking for the public’s assistance in finding the suspect or suspects. Investigators established a hotline for anyone with information.
Hutchinson was a 32-year veteran who had planned to retire in September. Hamilton said Hutchison served as his field training officer and “taught me everything I know.”
“This is near and dear to me,” Hamilton said. “This guy was a big teddy bear and everyone loved him.”
The block where the shooting occurred was ringed with yellow tape — and red tape surrounded Hutchison’s home down the street — for hours after the shooting. Investigators could be seen working in the area around the home. By late morning, some nearby streets had reopened, but a large contingent of police and investigators remained.
Police briefly closed portions of Interstate 35 heading into Austin as a long procession of police cars accompanied Hutchinson’s body to the medical examiner’s office.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Jim Vertuno