2014 Harris County, Texas shooting
This article needs to be updated.(September 2017)
|2014 Harris County, Texas shooting|
|Location||Near the Spring CDP, Texas, U.S.|
|Date||July 9, 2014|
|Target||Relatives of ex-wife|
|Mass shooting, domestic dispute, execution-style murder|
|Weapons||9mm Springfield XD pistol|
|Perpetrator||Ronald Lee Haskell (suspected)|
|Motive||Apparent domestic dispute|
On July 9, 2014, a mass shooting occurred in a home located in northern Harris County, Texas, near the Spring census-designated place, and a suburban area of Greater Houston, leaving six family members dead, four of them children, and a lone survivor. The suspected shooter, Ronald Lee Haskell, was apprehended after a standoff that lasted several hours. Haskell was related to the victims by a former marriage.
Police and court documents state that Haskell arrived at 711 Leaflet Lane, in an unincorporated area outside of the Spring, Texas census-designated place but with a Spring postal address, dressed as a FedEx employee. Haskell was reportedly searching for his ex-wife, the sister of the mother living in the home. The door was answered by the mother's 15-year-old daughter, who initially didn't recognize him; he asked for her parents and she told him they weren't home. Haskell left, but returned a short time later and told the girl he was her ex-uncle. When she tried to close the door on him, Haskell forced his way inside, tied her up, and made her lie face-down; Haskell did the same to the other four children and their parents when they returned to the house. Haskell then reportedly shot all seven people in the back of the head "execution-style" when they wouldn't tell him where his ex-wife was. Afterwards, he fled the scene using the family's car.
Five of the victims died at the scene, while one child died shortly after arriving at a hospital. The lone survivor, the 15-year-old girl who initially answered the door, was able to identify the suspect, telling responding police that the gunman was planning on going after other family members. She survived being shot by raising her hand, the bullet grazed her head and finger causing a skull fracture and damaging the tip of her finger, then "played dead".
Using the girl's information, police confronted the suspect at a second home; a chase ensued for twenty minutes, involving about two dozen patrol cars and eventually ending at a cul-de-sac located about three miles from the scene of the shooting, shortly before 7:00 p.m. The police managed to disable the suspect's car with a spike strip, corner him at the cul-de-sac, and block his car with two armored vehicles. The suspect held a pistol to his head and spoke to police via cellphone. Nearby homes were evacuated during the standoff. After around three hours passed, the suspect surrendered to police without further incident.
The six slain victims included 39-year-old Stephen Robert Stay; his wife, 33-year-old Katie Stay; and four of their children: Bryan, 13; Emily, 9; Rebecca, 7; and Zachary, 4. The sole survivor was 15-year-old Cassidy Stay, who was able to phone police and inform them that Haskell was planning to attack her grandparents next. She was released from the hospital on July 11.
Cassidy Stay's survival of the shooting and her participation in Haskell's apprehension have earned her praise from the public. An online fundraiser campaign for her received more than 16,000 participants and over $406,000 in donations.
Ronald Lee Haskell, Jr. (born August 26, 1980) was identified by police as the sole suspect in the shooting. He was raised in Escondido, California, and also lived in Eagle River, a community in Anchorage, Alaska, until 2004. In Alaska, he attended Chugiak High School, graduating in 1999. He had been voted as the class clown and king for both prom and homecoming. He worked as a parcel delivery driver for an independent service that had a contract with FedEx, but he stopped working for the company in January, according to a spokesperson. He married Melannie Kaye Lyon on March 15, 2002, in Orange County, California. He moved to Logan, Utah, where he lived from July 2006 to November 2013, mostly with his then-wife. Melannie Lyon later divorced him on February 14, 2014, and moved to Houston with the help of her sister, Katie Stay, who was one of the victims. Previously, the Stays were familiar with the Haskells, since both families belonged to a tight-knit Mormon community in southern California.
Haskell had previously faced domestic assault charges and had a protective order put against him by his wife before they divorced. In June 2008, Haskell was charged with suspicion of domestic violence, simple assault, and committing an act of violence in front of children, after reportedly dragging his wife out of bed by the hair and hitting her on the side of her head. Haskell said he had only pushed his wife. He later pleaded guilty to the simple assault charge, and not guilty to the domestic violence charge; the charges were later dismissed after a plea deal was reached. On July 8, 2013, a protective order was filed by Melannie Lyon and served the following day. Melannie Lyon filed for divorce in August. The protective order was later dismissed in October 2013 when the Haskells agreed to a mutual restraining order in the divorce and custody arrangements involving their four children, with Melannie Lyon gaining primary custody. He had been living with his parents in San Marcos, California, since the divorce; police later stated that Haskell was found holding a California driver's license.
On July 2, 2014, over a week prior to the shooting, Haskell's mother, Karla Jeanne Haskell, told San Marcos police that she wanted a restraining order against her son after having "a ferocious argument" with him, during which he reportedly forced her into the garage, tied her wrists with duct tape, taped her to a computer chair for almost four hours, and threatened to kill her and his entire family. The incident was allegedly sparked when Karla Haskell told him that she was in contact with his ex-wife. Deputies investigating the incident searched for Haskell but were unable to find him. They would later learn that Haskell had been arrested in Texas for the shooting.
On the morning of July 10, 2014, Haskell was charged with six counts of capital murder, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. He was held without bond, and made his first court appearance on July 11. In court, as the charges against him were read, he began shaking and later collapsed for reasons that are still unclear. When deputies lifted him to his feet, Haskell stood for a minute, then collapsed again. As a result, he had to be removed from the courtroom in a wheelchair. He made reappearances in court on September 30, 2014; December 2, 2014; and January 21, 2015. Due to the lengthy process of reviewing mental health records for Haskell, prosecutors assume the trial will be given an actual starting date in at least eighteen months.
- 2015 Harris County, Texas shooting, a similar shooting that occurred in northern Harris County
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