A Decatur man is in stable condition at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth after being shot by a Wise County sheriff’s deputy Wednesday night.
Christopher Harp, 52, called 911 just before 10 p.m. and reported “gun play.” Deputy Steven Yancey responded to the residence in the 200 block of County Road 1260 but wasn’t sure if he was at the right house. Sheriff David Walker said Yancey was using his spotlight to check the address when Harp walked from behind a tree with a gun.
The deputy was standing at his patrol vehicle, and he told Harp to drop his weapon. Harp continued walking aggressively toward the car and refused to drop the gun, aiming the firearm at the officer.
Yancey fired one shot with a .357 magnum. The bullet entered under Harp’s left arm and exited through his back.
He was treated at the scene by Wise County medics and transported to Wise Regional Health System (WRHS) in Decatur before being taken to JPS in Fort Worth.
Harp’s weapon turned out to be a black BB gun.
“It was dark, and the gun the man had looked exactly like a .22 rifle,” Walker said. “(Yancey) responded exactly as he’s been trained and according to policy.”
Wise County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigators and CSI team responded to the scene, and Texas Rangers have been called to investigate.
Yancey has been placed on paid administrative leave. The 29-year-old started with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office in 2009 as a jailer and became a patrol deputy in August of 2011.
A press release from the sheriff’s office said the incident may have been an “attempted suicide by cop,” which means an individual deliberately threatens a law enforcement officer provoking a lethal response.
About a month ago, officers responded to an attempted suicide call at the same address. It was reported that Harp had “cut his jugular,” but upon arrival, deputies found Harp with a cut on his arm. He was treated at WRHS.
Before Wednesday night’s shooting incident, Harp had caused disturbances earlier in the day at WRHS in Bridgeport and Decatur.
Assistant Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said officers were called to the hospital in Bridgeport about 1:15 p.m.
“The caller said he was threatening subjects in the ER, being aggressive and cussing out staff and so forth,” he said. “He went out the door before officers got there.”
Stanford said he doesn’t know if Harp left on foot or in a vehicle. It’s unknown why he went to the ER.
“We stayed on scene about 30 minutes and couldn’t locate him,” he said.
Later that afternoon, Harp showed up at WRHS in Decatur. Police Chief Rex Hoskins said Harp “caused a disturbance and kicked in a door,” but he left the scene before officers arrived.
Harp has a lengthy criminal history, and he is currently on parole until 2017 for two burglary charges that occurred in Wise County in October 1994.
Walker said Harp’s first arrest was in 1979, and there were multiple charges throughout the ’80s and into the ’90s from several different counties.
Robert Hurst, public information officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said Harp entered the state prison system in January of 1989.
“He was serving a concurrent 10-year sentence for burglary of a habitation in Jack County and burglary of a habitation in Denton County,” Hurst said in an email. “He was paroled in June 1990 under mandatory supervision.”
Harp returned to prison in December of 1991 when he violated his parole for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in Dallas County. He was paroled again under mandatory supervision in September 1993.
Hurst said Harp returned to prison March 13, 1995, when he began serving a concurrent 20-year sentence for two counts of burglary of a habitation in Wise County, which occurred in 1994. These are the charges for which he is currently on parole.
He served five years of this sentence before being released.
Hurst said it has not yet been determined how Wednesday’s incident will affect his parole.
Harp was living with his mother, and his daughter and her family live next door.
Wesley Ruddick, who lives across the street from Harp, said he had gotten along well with his neighbor until the last year.
“I had to call the police because he had come over here upset,” Ruddick said. He indicated Harp was mad about the smell and noises associated with the show steers the Ruddicks raise.
“He was a pretty good guy except when he’d been drinking,” Ruddick said. “Then there’s no dealing with him. He’s had some things aggravating him. I think he’d had a car accident a while back and hurt his arm.”
Wesley’s uncle, Ed Ruddick, is building a home next door to Harp.
“The last two days [before Wednesday's incident] he’d been out behind the house shooting a deer rifle,” said Ed. “I thought he was zeroing it in for deer season, but he’d just take one shot. Then the next day he’d come out and do it again.”
“I just feel bad for his mom and daughter,” said Wesley. “They’re good people.”
Publisher Roy Eaton contributed to this story.