Police: Suspect kills himself to end church standoff

December 6, 2009 5:33:33 AM PST
An alleged argument between husband and wife custodians at the Market Street Baptist Church in east Houston led to a police standoff and an apparent suicide. Investigators say it all started when a husband started arguing with his estranged wife inside the building. Police say the man later fired a gun inside the church off Market Street near Lear. That led to a standoff for several hours.

Nearly five hours after it started, the standoff was finally over. After searching the building for about 40 minutes, swat team members located the suspect dead inside.

"We found him in a room at 3:41pm. He was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," said Cpt. Robert Montgomery of the Houston Police Department SWAT Team.

The standoff began just after 9:30am Saturday morning. Benedicto Hernandez was walking nearby when he heard shots ring out. Hernandez said the shot sounded like it came from the corner of the church, he says, and then he heard another shot.

The suspect, a custodian at the church described as drunk and highly medicated, was cleaning the church with his estranged wife when police say the couple got into a fight. As she went to leave, that's when officers say he grabbed a long-barreled rifle.

"He got into it with her. We believe he shot at her a couple of times with the rifle," said Cpt. Montgomery.

When officers arrived, police say the suspect fired at least two shots at them. At least one officer returned fire, but missed. For hours, police attempted to negotiate with the man, but no contact was made. Police eventually made entry into the building and that's when they found him dead.

The deacon at the church says he was aware of the couple's problems but never expected it would turn out like this.

"He lost it, he just lost it this morning," said Deacon Joe McGinty.

The deacon told us the suspect worked at the church for more than 10 years.

Neither the wife nor any officers were injured. HPD Homicide is now taking over the investigation.


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