Shooting suspect arrested at Santa Rita
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office announced that the suspect in a shooting incident near SH 29 and Ronald Reagan has been arrested, but the firearm used has not been recovered and is the biggest concern at this point for law enforcement.
“We believe we still have a weapon – a pistol – somewhere in the neighborhood,” said Sheriff Robert Chody. “The suspect is not sharing that information with us and he says he never had a weapon. We know this to be false because we recovered a .22 shell at the location of the initial site. We’ve done an article search with our canines, but there is no telling where it is at. We do not want a child to find this weapon and cause harm to themselves.”
Kevin Lee Meeks, who was positively identified by the victims, was arrested after an exhaustive search of the area and Santa Rita South neighborhood that involved more than 40 officers from four different agencies – Liberty Hill Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Florence Police Department.
The first call came in of shots fired at 12:55 p.m. when deputies responded.
“A suspect with a gun went to a location at the 9700 block of SH 29 and fired a shot at a resident,” Chody said. “The resident did not know who this person was.”
When the resident approached the suspect, the suspect allegedly said he did not want to be bothered and as the resident came closer the suspect fired at him with what Chody said was a .22 caliber pistol.
“We believe he just ran behind SH 29 and into the neighborhood and that’s when officers started arriving to try and locate the suspect,” Chody said. “We initially thought there was more than one suspect. We saturated the area, 911 calls started coming in giving locations of the suspect, but we were always a few steps behind.”
That’s when Chody said the decision was made to lockdown the neighborhood to facilitate the search.
“We blocked all entrances and made sure all vehicles leaving the scene were searched before leaving to make sure we didn’t have any hostage situation in the vehicle.”
Based on a call from a neighbor, the suspect was located in a residence he had broken into, and DPS troopers, along with Williamson County deputies, apprehended him. Early on in the search it was believed there might have been two suspects, but Chody said there was only the one suspect.
Meeks did not give any initial indication of why the incident occurred and Chody said he believes there is a mental health issue involved.
The scene was cleared around 3:30 p.m. Chody said nothing else was known about the suspect at that time.
The incident led Liberty Hill ISD to put all campuses on a soft lockdown just after 1 p.m.
“When we got the information there was a lot of unknowns,” said LHISD Superintendent Steven Snell. “The most important thing for us when there are unknowns is we’re going to lock down everybody because we don’t know if it’s a gunman on foot, if they are in a car, we don’t want our high school kids released and driving by.”
The soft lockdown means school business goes on, but all activities are brought inside and the building is secured.
“There is monitoring of parking lots, there’s monitoring of all entrances, but as far as the students are concerned, business inside the school runs as normal,” Snell said.
Because it was so close to release time for students, Snell said the district had other issues of concern as well.
“When it got closer to dismissal time we were concerned that the suspect was still at large because we have elementary students who walk or ride their bike independently and go home to an empty house and we didn’t want that to happen, so our plan was to hold all independent walkers and bus riders until we got the all clear. Fortunately we got the all clear right at 3 p.m.”
The district was also prepared to hold students bound on buses for Santa Rita as well as long parents could not get in and out of the neighborhood due to the lock down.