A man angry about being sued for unpaid child support opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle outside a courthouse, killing his ex-wife and a bystander who intervened to protect the couple’s 23-year-old son.
The gunman, 43-year-old David Hernandez Arroyo Sr., was killed Thursday in a gunbattle with officers after fleeing the scene of the shooting, in which his son and three law enforcement officers were wounded.
Police estimated that Arroyo, who had a history of spousal abuse and weapons violations, shot 50 rounds in the historic town square. He was wearing a military flak jacket and a bulletproof vest.
“He definitely came well-armed and prepared,” police Chief Gary Swindle said. “We do understand there had been some threats made by him the previous week.”
Son tried to act as mediator
Joshua Wintters, an attorney representing Arroyo’s ex-wife, Maribel Estrada, 41, said he doesn’t believe she thought her ex-husband was dangerous.
“She wouldn’t have expected this to come,” he said. “She was really a gentle, quiet woman. Her main concerns in life were meeting the bills and seeing to her kids.”
The son, David Jr., was wounded trying to act as a mediator between his parents before his mother was killed, police said. He was in fair condition Friday. The couple had two other children, ages 17 and 6.
A sheriff’s deputy, Sherman Dollison, 28, was in critical condition with wounds in the liver, lungs and legs. A sheriff’s lieutenant and a Tyler police detective were treated and released.
Authorities credited the bystander who died, Mark Alan Wilson, 52, with saving the son’s life.
Wilson, a gun enthusiast who had a concealed weapons permit, intervened after Arroyo started shooting, witnesses said. Swindle said Wilson shot at Arroyo several times but his rounds didn’t penetrate the armor.
'It was sickening'
“They traded shots, missing each other, and then the gunman hit Wilson and Wilson went down,” Tyler Morning Telegraph publisher Nelson Clyde III said in Friday’s editions of the newspaper.
“The gunman walked up to Wilson and shot him while he was on the ground,” said Clyde, who watched the shooting from a nearby restaurant. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was sickening.”
Witnesses said Arroyo then calmly got into his pickup truck and drove away. He fired at officers through the rear window in a gunbattle and chase that lasted several miles, Swindle said.
Authorities believe he may have been shot before deputies rammed his vehicle. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.
Friends who visited the son in the hospital Thursday night said he told them that his father was always open about having a collection of weapons. “And look now, he used them on us,” Aurea Seanez quoted him as saying.
Estrada and Arroyo divorced in January 2004 after 22 years of marriage.
Tyler, population 86,000, calls itself the “Rose Capital of the Nation” and attracts about 100,000 visitors each October to the Texas Rose Festival. It is about 95 miles east of Dallas.