ATHENS, Texas – A man known for using an assault weapon to guard his property apparently killed and buried a neighboring landowner, the son of a former Texas governor, then was shot to death by law enforcement officers after he fired dozens of rounds at them, authorities said Monday.
B. Gill Clements, the 69-year-old son of former Gov. Bill Clements, was identified as the man found Saturday buried in a shallow grave behind a home adjacent to Clements' ranch, Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said.
Nutt said the deceased neighboring landowner, Howard T. Granger, 46, was the suspected killer.
Authorities were still investigating a possible motive, but Nutt said Clements complained when Granger shot across a fence at a tree on his property.
"Mr. Clements did have some type of conversation with him about that. I don't know of what nature," Nutt told The Associated Press on Monday.
A longtime friend of Clements, Bubba Wood, 70, said he had never heard Clements even refer to any kind of trouble with Granger.
"Gill Clements would never have gotten into a position where he would have antagonized that guy," Wood said. "I promise you that this is not anything that Gill set in motion. If he was concerned or fearful, he wouldn't have been down there."
An official cause of death was not released, but Nutt said authorities believed Clements had been shot.
Granger's small wood frame house sits at the dead end of a narrow dirt lane, under towering trees with at least half a dozen signs warning, "Keep Out" and "No Trespassing."
Authorities say Granger had no criminal record, and they couldn't find any previous law enforcement calls to the property. Still neighbors said they were cautious of Granger.
"I tried to avoid him just like everybody else did. He was strange," neighbor John Laster said.
Laster recalled Granger walking his property with an AK-47. At night he could hear someone target practicing on the property, he said.
"Everywhere you saw Granger, you saw him with that gun on him," Laster said. "It was like he like to intimidate people."
Clements was reported missing on Thursday night after he missed a meeting that morning, although his SUV was still at his property when law enforcement went to check.
As authorities searched Clements' property on Friday, they ran into Granger, who appeared with an AK-47. Returning later that afternoon with a search warrant, Granger fired off at least 30 rounds at an armored vehicle, concentrating on the windows, Nutt said.
The next morning, Clements' body was found in the grave 2 to 3 feet deep behind the house. His identification and some of his clothing were found in an outbuilding.
Nutt said that Granger's wife was in the home during the shootout. He said they had to use tear gas to get her out and she refused to speak to authorities. He said Monday that she had not been arrested. A call to her home was not returned Monday.
The small town of Athens is 60 miles southeast of Dallas. Just south of Athens, the area where Granger lived ranges from quaint, well-kept homes to derelict mobile homes on lots littered with junk. Many have signs warning against trespassers or advising visitors to "Beware of dog."
Republican Bill Clements, 93, took office in 1979 and served two terms, with four years in between after being defeated by Democrat Mark White in 1982.
According to his obituary, Gill Clements, born Oct. 13, 1941, in Dallas, had a love of animals from a young age. Graduating from Southern Methodist University in 1963 with a finance degree, he went to work for First National Bank of Dallas before going to work in 1968 for SEDCO, the offshore drilling company his father founded. He was treasurer for four years before becoming president and chief executive officer in 1973.
After the company was sold for $1 billion to Schlumberger Ltd., he retired from the drilling business. Since 1985, he worked as an investor.
Gill Clements visited his Henderson County ranch often and in recent years bought neighboring land to extend his property, neighbors said.
Wood called Clements an "amazing, amazing guy."
"If anyone got to know Gill, it changed their life," he said.
"I thought that my friendship with Gill was unique," Wood said. "In talking to people to do a eulogy, everyone I talked to felt like they had the same relationship with Gill that I did."
Neighbor Lynda Warren, 67, said she knew neither Granger nor Clements but heard the shots fired on Friday afternoon.
"You think you live out in the country and you are pretty safe," she said.
Clements is survived by his father, his wife of 47 years, Pat, his three children and seven grandchildren.
A memorial service is set for Wednesday in Dallas.