DALLAS – The suspect charged in the shooting an off-duty officer used a stolen .40 caliber gun and left it at the crime scene before fleeing police, officials say.
During an afternoon press conference Wednesday, Deputy Chief Sherryl Scott announced that Jason Yarborough has been charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer with a deadly weapon, which carries a punishment of between five and 99 years in prison.
On Tuesday morning, Sr. Cpl. Matthew Wagner and Sgt. Rodney Choate were working an off-duty security shift at the Wildflower Apartments in the 6000 block of Pineland Drive in Northeast Dallas. The two approached a man sitting in the backseat of a maroon minivan who had binoculars and a police scanner at about 12:30 a.m.
They asked the man, later identified as Yarborough, 31, to step out of the vehicle and patted him down. Yarborough then pulled a .40 pistol and fired two shots, hitting Wagner in his upper left arm and the right thigh. Choate was uninjured.
Scott said Yarborough ran and fired another shot, which sent a bullet into a parked car. Neither officer fired their weapon, Scott said.
“Suspect Yarborough continued running and eluded capture for much of the day,” Scott said.
Wagner was taken to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where he remains. He’s in fair condition.
Hours after the shooting, police questioned a ‘person of interest.’ Scott wouldn’t release many details, but said this person was a friend of Yarborough’s and helped authorities locate him. The suspect’s family was also questioned.
U.S. Marshals arrested Yarborough in Arlington on Tuesday night and handed him over to Dallas police. He’s being held at Lew Sterrett Justice Center without bond –– in addition to the new charge, Yarborough was wanted for violating parole, according to county records.
Scott said police found the weapon Wagner was shot with near the scene, along with a .40 magazine and a fingerprint that came from Yarborough. The gun was reported stolen out of Red Oak, where the 31-year-old lives. Scott wasn’t sure if he stole it or purchased it later.
While she wouldn’t say whether Yarborough was planning to commit a crime at that apartment complex, Scott said “it was very suspicious that they had the binoculars and police scanner in the van.”
She said Wagner and Choate followed the same protocol they would follow if they were o duty: proceed with caution and always be alert.
“It goes back to officers always being on their guard because you never know what kind of situation you’ve walked into,” she said. “If it’s a suspicious circumstance, you always pay close attention to your surroundings because if you walk up to somebody with binoculars and a police scanner, it’s not a good thing.”
Despite being wheeled into jail in a wheelchair, Scott said Yarborough was not seriously injured. He told investigators that he was shot, so he was taken to the hospital for a checkup.
“It was a scrape on his leg,” Scott said.
He has past charges for theft and aggravated robbery.