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Handcuffed Shoplifting Suspect Dies After Shooting Himself in Texas Patrol Car, Cops Say

Zachary Khabir Anam, 19, was in the back seat of a patrol car in Austin, Texas, when he allegedly pulled a pistol from the small of his back.
Image: Zacharay Khabir Anam.
Zacharay Khabir Anam.Austin Police Department - AP

A handcuffed shoplifting suspect who shot himself in the back seat of a patrol car in Texas on Sunday died Monday morning, authorities said.

Austin Police Department spokeswoman Anna Sabana identified the man as 19-year-old Zachary Khabir Anam.

Zacharay Khabir Anam.Austin Police Department - AP

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters that officers were responding to a shoplifting report at a mall in a wealthy neighborhood east of downtown Austin at noon on Sunday.

Police found Anam, who was wanted on several felony warrants, Manley said. He didn’t have an ID, so an unidentified officer was tasked with driving him to police headquarters to confirm his identity.

When they were outside a bar roughly five miles from the mall, Anam began discussing suicide with the officer, Manley said.

“The officer inquired if he had the means,” Manley said. “The individual stated that he did.”

Police in Austin, Texas, were investigating how a suspect handcuffed inside a patrol car was able to get into the car with a gun and shoot himself on Sunday, January 8. The 19-year-old man died the next day.KXAS

Manley said that Anam pulled a pistol from the small of his back and, while handcuffed, managed to pull the weapon around to the right side of his body and place the barrel at his head.

The officer jumped out of the car and started giving commands, Manley said.

Inside the bar, a server watching the encounter saw the officer walking around the car with his gun drawn. Then, the she saw Anam slump over.

“I just saw his head ... slowly fall over, as if he had been knocked out,” the server, identified only as Keisha H., told NBC affiliate KXAN.

Manley said the incident lasted roughly six minutes, and that Anam fired a single shot.

The chief said it was unclear if the officer, an 11-year veteran, had searched him before placing him under arrest.

The Associated Press reported that in May, local police issued an arrest warrant accusing Anam of being involved in several burglaries and auto thefts.

"If this individual had chosen to remove that weapon and fire at the officer instead without saying something, we could be here discussing a very different incident here," Manley said.

The Associated Press contributed.