NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches County grand jury issued "no-bill" rulings on NCSO deputies that were involved in two separate fatal shooting incidents that occurred in July and August of 2013.
A spokesperson for the Nacogdoches county District Attorney's Office confirmed that Texas Rangers presented their findings from the two separate investigations to the grand jury Friday. The Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office deputies were all no-billed, or cleared of any wrongdoing, by the grand jury.
That information was also confirmed by Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges. However, when Bridges was asked to confirm the names of the deputies, he said, "I'm not releasing the names of the deputies."
The first of the two fatal shooting incidents involving NCSO deputies occurred on July 15, 2013. In a previous East Texas News story, Bridges said deputies were dispatched to a disturbance at a residence on County Road 2051 around 1 a.m. and found a man, later identified as John Mark Stevens, 41, with a pistol in his hand.
Bridges said deputies negotiated with Stevens for nearly 45 minutes in his yard while Stevens held onto the gun and entered and exited an exterior shop next to his home. Stevens then started walking toward the deputies and ignored their commands to stop and drop his gun.
Deputies then fired 2 bean bag rounds at Stevens in order to disarm him.
"He just wouldn't drop the gun," said Bridges. "He came walking towards them [the deputies]. At that point they attempted alternate means to deflate the situation, they used non-lethal force, less lethal force is what we call it, with bean bag rounds."
"We do believe that he was struck with a bean bag round but he ran into some bushes and a few seconds later, it's a very unfortunate incident, but he shot at officers," said Bridges. "Several of those rounds struck right near the officers. Three rounds struck into a patrol unit which several officers were standing beside. They had to fire back."
Deputies then gave medical attention to Stevens until EMS arrived on the scene, Bridges said.
Stevens died at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital.
The second, unrelated fatal shooting incident occurred on Highway 103 near Etoile on Aug. 6, 2013. Bridges said deputies were on their way to serve a "high risk" warrant on Kevin Koonce, of Etoile, at his residence when a shootout occurred on the second bridge on Lake Sam Rayburn, heading east on State Highway 103.
The U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the NCSO had been investigating Koonce eight months for a parole violation, Bridges said in a previous East Texas News story.
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.
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 was ordered.