Texas Rangers still had the Carter Motel in La Grange sealed off Friday morning.
La Grange Police Chief David Gilbreath says he was standing shoulder to shoulder with 32-year-old Fayette County Sheriff's Deputy Calvin "CJ" Lehmann when he was shot in the face Thursday night, leading to a shootout and SWAT standoff.
"Deputy Lehmann, young officer raised in the community, cares for the community and it's heartbreaking," Gilbreath said. Chief Gilbreath says officers had been trying to track the fugitive down for the last two months. The man failed to register as a sex offender.
About 5:00 on Thursday officers approached him at a Dollar General right next to the Carter Motel, a place where people can stay long-term. Jimmy Mash says the suspect is one of his neighbors at the motel but didn't know him well.
Mash says he was at the store too and saw the initial interaction. "Two officers walked in and they walked straight to this gentleman standing in line, called him by his name and he told them 'no.'"
"Officer saw him pulling the knife so they pulled their taser and they tased him and it was ineffective. Then he was going to stab the officer that tased him. The officer deflected the knife with his hand and received a cut in his hand," Gilbreath said.
"Ended up shooting him with his taser and the guy just pulled his knife and knocked him down and the chase was on," Mash said.
Chief Gilbreath describes firsthand what happened at the suspect's apartment. Deputy Lehmann volunteered to take the lead at the door because he was wearing a ballistic vest.
"As we were negotiating with him through his door a shot rang out...several shots. Subject started shooting at us and struck Deputy Lehmann immediately on the first shot," Gilbreath said.
The Sheriff's office says the suspect used a shotgun.
Mash says he was back at his apartment at this point. "When the shots started I had to dive in my door then they got me out of there. I heard at least 30 or 40 shots," Mash said.
Deputy Lehmann was still in the line of fire.
When officers went to pull him out...
"Subject started shooting again, multiple rounds at us," the Chief said.
Once they got Lehmann to safety, officers formed a perimeter around the motel. DPS SWAT and Texas Rangers were called in. They eventually took the suspect into custody later that evening.
"If this guy's been wanted [and] been living here for so long why in the Hell haven't they already gotten him? I mean we're in danger staying here knowing that somebody like that is here and they know he's here," Mash said.
Chief Gilbreath wasn't sure of the suspect's condition Friday afternoon.
He says Deputy Lehmann is in good spirits at the hospital. The Fayette County Sheriff’s office says he has lost sight in one eye and doctors are trying to save the other. "He's able to recognize his fiancé and his mother and his sister and gave them a thumbs up which is great news," Gilbreath said.
If you’d like to help, the Sheriff’s Office sent this statement:
Anyone who would like to assist CJ financially may make a contribution to the Fayette County Sheriff's Memorial and Benevolent Society. In the "For" section, please put "CJ". All funds received for CJ will go directly to him to assist him financially. CJ is a single dad with three daughters.
Donations for the Fayette County Sheriff's Memorial and Benevolent Society may be sent to the Fayette County Sheriff's Office, C/O FCSMBS, at 1646 N. Jefferson St, La Grange, TX 78945