Lufkin shooting stirs up memories for sheriff

Maurell McClendon
Maurell McClendon
Christine McClendon
Christine McClendon
Sheriff Kent Henson
Sheriff Kent Henson

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Friday will mark 21 years since Sheriff Kent Henson shot and killed a Fuller Springs man.

"It's something that you live with," Henson said. "I'll wake up at night and I'll still smell the gunpowder. I still hear him hollering."

He remembers every detail of that day.

"I've never been so sick in all my life just to know when you pull the trigger and you hear the thud when you hit the man and watch him hit the ground knowing that you've taken somebody's life or you had to shoot somebody," Henson said. "It makes you sick to your stomach."

Henson and his partner were responding to a family disturbance.

When they arrived, a man shot at them with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The man fired 23 times in about four minutes.

Henson returned fire.

"I watched him load the shotgun," he said. "He dropped two rounds, put the third round in it and I hear the gun when it clicked. I heard when he cocked it. It was either us or him and that's what his full intentions were."

It was the first and only time Henson has ever shot anyone.

He says Friday's shooting only brings back the memory.

"I look back on it a lot of times, you know how could I have avoided this, you know, there's no way to avoid it," Henson said. "We didn't start this. This man started this when he did."

Lufkin police say the officers involved in Friday's shooting, Ray Hightower and Randy Stallard, have a combined 25 years of experience.

"Officers spend their entire career expecting that this could happen and hoping it never does," Det. J.B. Smith said.

Lufkin officers undergo training several times a year using a reality-based simulator. Instead of a bullet, there's a laser.

Officers say although they train for all these scenarios, they can never predict exactly what they're going to find when they arrive on scene.

"It changes a lot in you when that happens," Henson said.

Henson won't forget the incident, but says time has a way of healing.

"They did exactly what they should've done," he said. "They did nothing wrong and I just hate that they were put in that situation."

Hightower and Stallard were on their last work day of the week, and aren't scheduled to come back until later this week.

However, the department is allowing them as many days off as they need.

The shooter, Maurell McClendon, 88, died around 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

He was shot, possibly twice, during the incident by the officers.

Early investigation shows Maurell shot his 78-year-old ex-wife, Christine McClendon.

She died Friday from an apparant gunshot wound to the chest.

When officers arrived on the scene, they say McClendon was on the front porch with a gun.

Witnesses told investigators that the officers commanded him to drop the gun, but instead the shooter moved toward his ex-wife and fired again.

Maurell's daughter was with her dad when he died Sunday night and says she asked her dad "why?" but he was not able to respond.

"I think it's just a matter of you're kind of numb," Shelley Cox said. "You don't really realize you're just going through the motions. That's pretty much it. It's all you can do. It's just what you feel at the time and it's just so many mixed feelings and you just don't really feel anything."

The police department says it appears the officers involved in the shooting did everything they could to save Christine McClendon.

"I can't believe that this is happened," daughter Marvie Moore said. "I love my mother and I miss my mother and I hate this happened to my mother and my dad. At first it was a shock and we couldn't believe it. I hate what he did, but I still love my daddy."

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