Shane M. James Jr., 34, was booked at Travis County Jail in Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, and charged with capital murder. The former Army infantry officer was discharged in 2015 for domestic violence, according to local police.

Shane M. James Jr., 34, was booked at Travis County Jail in Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, and charged with capital murder. The former Army infantry officer was discharged in 2015 for domestic violence, according to local police. (Austin Police Department)

AUSTIN, Texas — A former Army officer discharged for domestic violence was charged Wednesday with murder for a shooting spree in Texas that left six people dead, Army officials and local law enforcement said.

Shane M. James Jr., 34, is accused of killing his parents in San Antonio sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning, and then driving north to Austin, where police said he killed four more people and shot and injured two police officers and a cyclist in separate incidents across the city.

He is listed as an inmate at Travis County Jail and is charged with capital murder for the deaths in Austin and three Bexar County misdemeanor charges, according to online court records.

James served as an infantry officer with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Cavazos, Texas, from February 2013 to August 2015, according to Bryce Dubee, an Army spokesman. He had no deployments and separated from the service Aug. 17, 2015, as a first lieutenant. Dubee would not elaborate on the nature of the separation.

“The Privacy Act and DoD policy prevent us from releasing information relating to the misconduct of low-level employees or characterization of service at discharge,” he said.

However, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that James was discharged “due to some sort of a domestic incident in the military.” He said investigators found the information in military paperwork, but deputies were not aware of it during their dealings with James on similar domestic charges in 2022.

James began his violent rampage Tuesday near San Antonio, Salazar said. He said James killed his parents — Phyllis James, 55, and Shane James Sr., 56 — before he arrived at about 10:43 a.m. at a high school more than 80 miles north in Austin. There, he opened fire on an Austin Independent School District police officer and struck him in the leg, according to city police.

At about noon, Austin police received another call of a shooting at a home in a different Austin neighborhood, where police found one person dead and another shot who died after being taken to the hospital. That home was about 10 miles from the high school.

Less than five hours later, a cyclist in another part of Austin called and said he had been shot, according to city police. A final call came at about 7 p.m., when police responded to a home invasion in progress and found two people dead inside.

Police found James in the backyard of the last home, and he opened fire, shooting and wounding an officer. James managed to get away and drove off but crashed his vehicle at about 7:15 p.m. at a highway intersection and was taken into custody by police.

Police have not released any relationship that James might have had with the school or the homes where he is believed to have killed people.

James first came to the attention of Bexar County police on Jan. 6, 2022, when he was arrested for domestic violence against his parents and a sibling, Salazar said. He was accused of pushing and scratching his family members, District Attorney Joe Gonzales said.

James was arrested at the time and later released on bond, Salazar said. He was forced to wear an ankle monitor, which he removed. In August, police received a call from James’ father for a mental health incident. When police arrived, they realized James had three misdemeanor warrants, Salazar said.

“To paraphrase what I remember of the case, he was naked, he was just acting out, had a mental health episode and he was upstairs in his bedroom,” the sheriff said.

James remained barricaded in his room during the incident, shouting racial and homophobic slurs at police. However, deputies were unable to arrest him on the warrants and could not force their way into the room because the charges were only misdemeanors, Salazar said.

James’ father agreed to call police again when his son came out of the room, but he never did.

“There was no crystal ball, there was no indication here,” Gonzales said. “We know that there was a mental health history here … but again, there was nothing to indicate that this individual was going to commit a murder and certainly not one of this seriousness where you have multiple victims.”

Bexar County officials have not yet charged James with the deaths of his parents, and Gonzales said he will not face prosecution there until Travis County completes its case against him.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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