NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office is investigating a Wednesday morning officer-involved shooting on State Highway 103 that left a 46-year-old man dead.
Deputies were on their way to serve a "high risk" warrant on Kevin Koonce, of Etoile, at his residence, according to Sheriff Jason Bridges when the shootout occurred on the second bridge on Lake Sam Rayburn, heading east on State Highway 103.
A helicopter was flying around the scene at one point, but Bridges would not say why.
Bridges said that the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the NCSO had been investigating Koonce for the past eight months for a parole violation.
Nacogdoches authorities obtained the "high risk felony search and arrest warrant," for Koonce Monday. NCSO deputies and DPS troopers were on the way to his house when they saw his pickup on Highway 103.
Bridges said after an NCSO deputy pulled Koonce over, the man immediately jumped out of his truck, ran toward the NCSO patrol unit, and started shooting, hitting the deputy's vehicle at least three times.The deputy jumped out of his vehicle and took cover before he returned fire, hitting Koonce, a press release stated.
The shootout happened just yards from a house of one witness who did not want to be identified but did tell the East Texas News what she saw.
"I opened the curtain and I see a whole bunch of cars and the SWAt team was in front of the house and I'm like, 'Oh my God! What's going on?, It scared me," said the witness.
The deputy, whose name is being withheld at this time, was not hurt in the shootout. However, Bridges acknowledged that the outcome could have been very different.
"Several bullets probably just bypassed him, so we're thankful," Bridges said.
EMS personnel arrived on the scene within a matter of minutes and began giving medical aid to Koonce. However, Koonce was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy has been ordered.
At least 18 evidence markers for spent shell casings could be seen at the scene of the shooting.
Koonce had two .45-caliber pistols with him. Numerous other weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were found at his residence, which led Bridges to say that the right steps were taken when authorities sought to arrest Koonce.
"He did exactly what he needed to do and reacted how he was trained to survive that situation," Bridges said.
According to a press release, Koonce had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for motion to revoke probation. The original charge, which was issued on July 17, 2012, was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is a second-degree felony.
"Since that time, deputies have attempted to locate and execute the felony warrant several times to apprehend Koonce but were unsuccessful," the press release stated. "During this time the Sheriff Office has gained information that Koonce was heavily armed and has made statements that he would not be taken alive.
In the press release, Bridges also said that his office had "gained information and had personal knowledge" that Koonce had a history of violence. In addition, Koonce was bipolar and off his medication.
The press release stated that the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's office has made numerous attempts to reach out to Koonce's attorney and family members in an effort to get him to surrender peacefully, but no progress was made. Recently, law enforcement officials learned that Koonce was living on County Road 466, which is located in Etoile.
The residence was a motor home that had been pulled out into a secluded wooded area well away from any other houses, the press release stated.
"Koonce was being seen at times by the public in which he was always armed," the press release stated. "Koonce was using social media sites and posting rhetoric about weapons, law enforcement, and anti-government issues."
In addition to the Facebook posts that were critical of law enforcement agencies and the government, Koonce also posted and shared photos of dogs at local animal shelters.
The deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave. Bridges said the NCSO will be conducting an internal investigation. The Texas Rangers will also be investigating the shooting.
Originally, traffic on State Highway 103 was blocked in both directions. Traffic is now flowing in both directions, and the scene has been cleared.
East Texas News has interviewed Koonce on several prior occasions. In March 2009, Koonce spoke about how he liked to barter for goods and services. In February of that same year, Koonce spoke to East Texas News about a San Augustine man that was in trouble for neglecting his dogs.
"I saw Mr. Johnson coming out of his driveway," Koonce said in February 2009. "There was a small dog that was following his vehicle out. That dog just looked terrible. I followed the dog back to the house and I saw the rest of the animals."