DALLAS –– A man armed with a grenade suspected of killing four people and wounding another four in two violent outbursts overnight at homes in southern Dallas and DeSoto was arrested early Thursday morning, police say.
Dallas and DeSoto police identified the suspect as 44-year-old Erbie Bowser, a former Dallas Mavericks ManiAAc dancer and Mesquite Independent School District teacher. Dallas police spokesman Maj. Jeff Cotner said the man walked into the southwest Dallas home of 43-year-old Toya Smith, Bowser's ex-girlfriend, and shot four people at about 10:30 p.m. in the 7100 block of Long Canyon Trail.
Smith and her 17-year-old daughter, Tasmia Allen, were killed in the Dallas attack. Smith's 14-year-old son, Storm Malone, and Allen's friend, 17-year-old Dasmine Mitchell, were both injured.
Malone was transported to Children's Hospital and listed in critical condition. Cotner said Mitchell, who was staying with the family over the summer, underwent surgery and was able to give detectives critical details about the crime and suspect.
"Ms. Mitchell was able to provide information, which now is allowing Dallas detectives to prepare two warrants of arrest for capital murder, charging Mr. Bowser with the aforementioned deaths," Cotner said in an afternoon news conference.
According to Cotner, Smith was speaking to her mother, Lurlean Smith, on the phone before she was shot. After the conversation ended, Smith’s mother grew concerned and called back. Nobody answered. Cotner said she then called others inside the home and also received no response. She then drove to the home with another family member.
“They entered the house and there was no immediate response,” Cotner said. “Once inside, they observed the victims, and that’s when they called 911.”
The elder Smith said she arrived to the house with her grandson and found the lights on. Nobody answered the front door, so she said she knocked on the window and heard gasps for air.
"We could hear someone gasping for breath in there, he said, 'Granny, they listening to headphones,' and I said, 'no, that's not a headphone,'" Smith said, bursting into tears.
The two then went inside and found a family friend, who has not been identified, shot.
"She fell in my arms and she was bleeding and I moved her back to the sofa and that's when I saw my grandbaby," Smith said.
Police say Bowser then left Dallas and traveled to a DeSoto home in the 100 block of Galleria Drive, where he allegedly tossed a grenade inside. After it detonated, the suspect entered and shot four people, said DeSoto police Cpl. Melissa Franks. A child called 911 from inside the home.
Two adult women were killed and two boys, ages 11 and 13, were injured during the shooting in DeSoto. They remain hospitalized, although their conditions have not been released.
In a news conference, Franks confirmed that an explosive device was tossed into the DeSoto home. She did not elaborate, saying the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has taken over that side of the investigation.
Tommy Johnson, a neighbor, said a loud pop woke him up around 11 p.m. He checked on his children and then went outside to find police approaching a nearby home.
"They went in the house, battering rammed it about three times and after some time they brought out two people on a stretcher," Johnson said.
DeSoto police reacted quickly, Cotner said. After the suspect left the Dallas home, police linked him to his estranged wife's residence in DeSoto. Dallas officers called the DeSoto Police Department, which immediately dispatched units to the home in the 100 block of Galleria Drive.
"It was within five minutes of that bang that they were already walking down the sidewalk," Johnson said of the police response.
In DeSoto, Bowser's estranged wife, 47-year-old Zina Teal-Bowser, was killed along with 28-year-old Neima Williams, who was also in the home. Teal-Bowser's children, Miles White, 11, and Chris White, 13, were critically wounded. Verniece Criddell, the aunt of Bowser's estranged wife, said both boys underwent surgery. Teal-Bowser owned the DeSoto home that Bowser allegedly targeted.
A 3-year-old boy was taken unharmed from the DeSoto home and is in the custody of Child Protective Services. CPS spokeswoman Shari Pulliam said they were notified of the incident at 2:30 a.m.
According to court records, Teal-Bowser filed for divorce from Bowser on Jan. 20, 2011. The order is still pending.
However, a protective order includes an affidavit detailing a violent incident at her home on Galleria Drive four days after that. According to the document, Bowser arrived home at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 24. Teal-Bowser asked whether Bowser was moving out prior to the hearing date.
Bowser refused, the document says, saying "the only thing he was going to do is give me my ring back." Bowser allegedly said, "I don't have nothing to lose and if you take anything from me you are going to see what happens."
Teal-Bowser replied, "What's going to happen?"
At this point, Bowser allegedly approached his estranged wife as she stood in the bathroom wearing a robe. The document says he pushed her with his stomach and put his finger to her face before saying, "I will bury you."
The affidavit says he walked out of the bathroom and pulled a knife out of the nightstand near the bed. He flipped the knife open and said, "Call the police and I will execute your kids," the document says.
"Call the police and I am going to execute whoever is up there," he allegedly said from their first-floor bedroom.
Teal-Bowser asked whether he was going to kill her –– "No," he replied, "I'm going to cut your a-- up but I am going to execute the kids."
The document says he put the knife back in the drawer and exited the bedroom. Teal-Bowser grabbed her keys out of her purse, picked up a phone and followed him into the family room. She snuck past him and called to the boys, who were in the second floor of the home. The document says Bowser sat down on the stairs while Teal-Bowser called 911.
As she spoke to an operator, Bowser repeatedly yelled, "She is lying! That's a lie!" The boys sat at the top of the stairs as Bowser blocked their exit, the affidavit says.
"All of a sudden, he jumped up and ran to the master bedroom and I told the boys to, 'Come fast! Let's go!' And we ran out the front door and the police were outside," the document reads.
The boys ran to the sidewalk as the door opened behind them. The protective order says Bowser was arrested that night.
Criddell, Teal-Bowser's aunt, said she did not know the couple was speaking again. She said Bowser frequently acted strange and controlling toward her niece. Teal-Bowser was a nurse practitioner at John Peter Smith Hospital. Spokeswoman Diana Carroll said she was a "compassionate member of our healthcare team, providing dedicated care for JPS employees and their family members."
"She touched the lives of many and she will be greatly missed," Carroll said.
Multiple law enforcement sources said Bowser ran out of ammunition and was arrested in DeSoto shortly after the shooting. Police at the scene said the suspect pretended to be one of the victims when authorities arrived at the home. He was taken into custody without incident, Franks said.
At about noon, Bowser was handcuffed to a stretcher and transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital for a checkup.
Both Dallas and DeSoto police charged Bowser with a total of four counts of capital murder. Cotner said he “knew the victim for some time” and “responding officers very quickly identified a suspect." He classified the incident as “domestic related.”
Bowser reportedly has tattoos that identify him as a former member of the military and was repeating his name, rank and serial number to police officers who entered the crime scene. U.S. Army records show Bowser served from October of 1991 to November 2000, eventually earning the rank of staff sergeant, the records show. He was never deployed and was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y. and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Laura Jobe, a spokeswoman for the Mesquite Independent School District, said Bowser was employed at Mesquite Academy and Berry Middle School as a special education teacher from December 2001 to March of 2010. He resigned and was not terminated, she added.
He also coached at West Mesquite High School. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he had not been involved with the organization since 2007.
Agents from the FBI and ATF are assisting the Dallas and DeSoto police departments with the investigation.
News 8's Marcus Moore, Shon Gables and Jason Trahan contributed to this report.