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Veteran officer, gunman die in Texas shootout

By Michael Graczyk

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 14 2012 2:40 a.m. MDT

Texas State troopers and Brazos Valley lawmen work the scene of the shooting of two fellow law officers, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 in College Station, Texas. Police say at least one law enforcement officer and one civilian have been killed in a shooting near Texas A&M University's campus. Assistant Chief Scott McCollum says the gunman also was shot Monday before being taken into custody.

College Station Eagle, Dave McDermand, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A law enforcement veteran of 19 years was making what was supposed to be a routine house call to serve an eviction notice at a property near the Texas A&M University campus. But the recipient opened fire and shots were exchanged, leaving him, the police constable and another man mortally wounded.

The spasm of violence Monday left a College Station neighborhood shaken, a tight-knit law enforcement community in mourning and the family of 35-year-old gunman Thomas Alton Caffall distraught.

Just after noon, College Station police began fielding frantic 911 calls about gunfire in the neighborhood near the university's football stadium. Responding officers found 41-year-old Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann shot on the lawn of the house.

For nearly 30 minutes police exchanged shots with Caffall as a neighbor, a former Army medic, waited with frustration for the all-clear so he could tend to the injured constable.

Bachmann, a police instructor, one-time Officer of the Year and a married father of two, had been mortally wounded. So was Chris Northcliff, 43, of College Station, who was outside and apparently caught up in the gunfire.

Caffall too was shot and later died at a hospital.

Police wouldn't speculate on what sparked the shooting and it wasn't immediately clear who shot whom.

"We're trying to make some sense of this," College Station Assistant Police Chief Scott McCollum said.

A neighbor and former medic, Rigo Cisneros, called 911 when he heard the shooting. In video shot on his cellphone showing police officers running into the house, Cisneros, 40, can be heard asking an officer if an ambulance is coming and if he can meanwhile tend to Bachmann's wounds. The officer tells Cisneros he must wait until the shooting scene is secure.

Cisneros told The Bryan-College Station Eagle that by the time he was allowed to approach Bachmann's body, it was too late.

"I performed CPR. There were no vital signs on the constable when I got there," he said. "He took one clear gunshot wound to the chest."

Cisneros said he also went to Caffall, who was shot several times but still conscious.

"I was asking him questions, like if he knew he was allergic to anything," Cisneros said. "He looked up at me and asked me to apologize to the officer that was shot."

Details about Caffall were slow to emerge.

Officials at Texas A&M, the 50,000-student school that dominates the city 100 miles northwest of Houston, said he was neither a student nor school employee. Police said he had been renting the home where he was staying.

Caffall's sister said Monday night that the family was shocked by the violence.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and this is just a senseless tragedy," said Courtney Clark, reached Monday evening at her mother's home in Navasota, about 20 miles to the south. "We are just distraught by the havoc that he has caused."

She declined additional comment.

Besides the three fatalities, a 55-year-old woman also was wounded and was hospitalized in serious condition. Her name had not been released by Monday evening.

Another officer, Justin Oehlke, was treated for a gunshot wound in the calf and was in stable condition, police spokeswoman Rhonda Seaton said. Two other officers — Brad Smith and Phil Dorsett — were treated for "shrapnel injuries" and released, Seaton said.

Bachmann was well respected and "very close to everyone in law enforcement," McCollum said. "He was a pillar in this community, and it's sad and tragic that we've lost him today."

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