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Activists Reject Claims That Black Lives Matter Led to Shooting of Houston Deputy

The apparent lack of motive in the murder of a sheriff’s deputy in suburban Houston on Saturday led law enforcement officials to speculate that protests against police brutality may have been a factor.
Photo via Harris County Sheriff's Office/AP

Texas law enforcement officials have arrested a suspect in the murder of a sheriff's deputy at a gas station in suburban Houston on Saturday, but they do not believe the gunman had any interaction with the victim before the shooting, and are still searching for a motive in the case.

Shannon Miles was arrested and charged with the murder of Darren Goforth, 47, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Goforth was off duty but still in uniform when he was killed while pumping gas on Friday night at a Chevron station in Cypress, a suburb northwest of Houston. Police said the gunman came up behind Goforth and shot him multiple times, continuing to fire even after the deputy fell to the ground. The deputy had responded to a car accident in the area before he stopped refill his tank.


Law enforcement flooded the area around where the shooting occurred and spent hours searching for the gunman. Miles, 30, was arrested on Saturday and charged with capital murder. Miles reportedly lives less than a mile away from the crime scene, and police spotted a red, extended cab pickup truck — the same model as the shooter's suspected getaway vehicle — parked in the driveway of his house.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman called the shooting "cold blooded" and "cowardly." He said investigators haven't yet determined why the deputy was shot.

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"We have not been able to extract any details as far as a motive at this point," Hickman said. He said Miles had been arrested on multiple charges previously, including resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct with a firearm.

When speaking about possible motives, the sheriff mentioned he was concerned about angry rhetoric toward police related to ongoing nationwide protests aimed at drawing attention to police brutality and race relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

"Any point where the rhetoric ramps up where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control," he said. "We've heard black lives matter, all lives matter, well cops lives matter too. So let's just drop the qualifier and say lives matter."


Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson also called for a halt to violent or threatening rhetoric against police.

"It is time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement, there are a few bad apples in every profession that does not mean that there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement," Anderson told reporters.

DeRay Mckesson, a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement, posted several tweets on Saturday that forcefully rejected the efforts to link the Houston shooting with activism against police brutality.

"It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer's death to a movement seeking to end violence," Mckesson wrote. "I do not condone killing," he added later. He also argued against using the slogan "All lives matter," or "lives matter," in place of Black Lives Matter, as the Houston sheriff suggested.

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It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer's death to a movement seeking to end violence.

— deray mckesson (@deray)August 29, 2015

Others echoed Mckesson's remarks, and compared the comments by the Houston law enforcement officials to past efforts to discredit the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Texas Sheriff blames— Gordon Marble (@gemarble357)August 30, 2015

Miles is due in court Monday.

Follow Gillian Mohney on Twitter: @gillianmohney

The Associated Press contributed to this report.