The prime suspect in the “cold-blooded assassination” of a Texas sheriff’s deputy has been charged with murder.
The policeman was gunned down from behind and shot multiple times at close range allegedly because he was a policeman.
The fatal shooting prompted an emotional reaction from local officials, who pointed their finger at ramped-up rhetoric against police officers in the United States in protests against perceived police brutality.
Darren Goforth, 47, was killed on Friday night in the Houston area because of his job, Sheriff Ron Hickman said, announcing the charges against the alleged gunman.
“Our deputies returned to the streets tonight to hold a delicate peace that was shattered last evening,” Hickman told reporters, calling Goforth’s killing – a gunman crept up from behind and opened fire – a “senseless and cowardly act”.
Shannon Miles, a 30-year-old black male with a long criminal history, had been charged with capital murder, said Hickman.
“He does have previous criminal history that includes charges for resisting arrest, trespass, evading detention and disorderly conduct with a firearm,” Hickman added.
Asked what Miles’ motive was, the sheriff replied: “At this moment, as of this morning, our assumption is he (Goforth) was a target because he wore a uniform. At this moment, we found no other motive or indication that it was anything other than that.”
Hickman earlier said the killing was one of the worst he had seen in 45 years in the job.
Goforth, a white, 10-year veteran of the force, was married with two children.
Earlier, Hickman said the shooting was part of a dangerous rhetoric in America and local officials connected the killing to a series of protests in major American cities against the police.
“At any point when the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control,” Hickman said.
“We’ve heard black lives matter. All lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and say lives matter.”
“Black Lives Matter” became the recent rallying cry for protesters demonstrating against a string of killings of unarmed black men by police officers.