A 24-minute period of mayhem on a North Texas highway began and ended with bloodshed late Thursday morning.
At 11:01 a.m., Montague County sheriff’s deputy James Boyd, 27, pulled over a black 1991 Cadillac on a traffic stop on U.S. 287 just north of the intersection of Texas 59, near Bowie.
“The suspect opened fire as (Boyd) made his way to the vehicle,” said Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham. “He hit the ground and didn’t have the chance to return fire, but he was able to radio for help and give a description of the vehicle, which helped officers in Wise County track him down.”
Boyd was shot three times. Two bullets struck him in the chest. A third hit his forehead.
“He was wearing a bulletproof vest,” said Wise County Sheriff David Walker. “It saved his life.”
The suspect has since been identified as Evan S. Ebel, 28, a parolee out of Colorado. Ebel, a possible suspect in two murders there, then turned the stretch of highway between Bowie and Decatur into a raceway and shooting range.
Driving south at speeds of 100 miles per hour, Ebel dodged in and out of heavy traffic, taking time to fire his handgun multiple times at any law enforcement that got in his way.
Near a roadside park south of Alvord, Ebel opened fire on Wise County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Lt. Art Ferguson, giving him a close brush with death.
While racing past, Ebel fired from his speeding Cadillac on Ferguson’s patrol unit. One bullet punctured the front window on the driver’s side, missing Ferguson’s head by an inch. After the chase ended, Ferguson’s face was covered with red scrapes where shards of glass from his window peppered him like shrapnel.
The next target was Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins. Preparing for the incoming suspect, Hoskins posted up at a crossover on U.S. 287 on the north end of Decatur, near Catfish O’Harlies restaurant.
“I was out on 287, at a crossover, waiting for him to approach,” Hoskins said. “When he came by he had his left arm out the window gripping a pistol, just shooting at every police officer he could see. I didn’t think I got hit but then found out he did hit the front tire on my vehicle. He was going so fast I never had the chance to shoot back.”
Hoskins said Ebel shot at him four times.
By this time white smoke billowed from the back of Ebel’s Cadillac. Crossing the intersection of Farm Road 1810, a line of flashing red and blue lights followed over the hill and out of sight as Wise County sheriff’s officers, Decatur police officers and state troopers pursued Ebel.
While still racing at a high speed, Ebel exited 287 and turned onto West U.S. Business 380. Speeding past the sheriff’s office, he turned heedlessly into the intersection at U.S. 380, crashing into the side of a rock hauler. The roof of the Cadillac crumpled and the hood burst into flames.
But Ebel wasn’t finished.
“He jumped out of the car and started firing at deputies,” Hoskins said. “They returned fire, and he hit the ground.”
No officers were hit, but a bullet from a deputy struck Ebel in the head, ending his rampage.
“(Ebel) had no intention of getting out of this situation alive,” Hoskins added.
He was taken to Wise Regional Health System and from there flown by helicopter to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He was brain-dead, kept alive only by machines that night. By Friday morning he was declared deceased.
Investigators surrounded the scene with yellow crime tape, which whipped in the wind under a gray sky as crime scene investigators took note of every detail. Members of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, State Troopers, Texas Rangers, FBI, Decatur police, Wise County Medics and Decatur Fire Department all assisted at the scene.
The driver of the rock hauler was uninjured. He unknowingly helped end a chase that put many lives in danger.
Only one weapon, a handgun, was found on Ebel.
Walker said his deputies involved in the fire fight will be debriefed and will receive any counseling they may need from the Sheriff’s Office chaplain.
“We’re fortunate that all the law enforcement here in North Texas work together closely and in unison,” Walker said. “Other police departments, Bridgeport and Fort Worth, have called to offer us any support they can.”
Deputy Boyd was flown to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. Cunningham said he was talking as of Friday morning and surrounded by friends, family and fellow officers.
“Our deputy that was injured yesterday is doing great,” Cunningham said. “I talked to his mom and dad this morning. He was sitting up in bed and talking.”
He said Boyd initiated the traffic stop as part of a drug interdiction program. U.S. 287 is a pipeline for transporting drugs, and Boyd looks for suspicious vehicles. Cunningham’s eyes watered, and pain etched his face when discussing Boyd’s injuries. The sheriff is a lifetime friend of Boyd’s father and has known the deputy since he was a baby.
From the time Ebel shot Boyd in Bowie to the moment a bullet from a Wise County deputy ended his life, only 24 minutes passed.
HOW TO HELP
Local law enforcement is asking anyone who witnessed the wreck or saw Ebel firing at officers during the pursuit yesterday to call Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971 or Decatur Police Department at 940-627-1500.