A Wolfe City Police Department Officer remained in custody Tuesday morning, after being taken into custody and charged with murder in connection with the Saturday night shooting death of Jonathan Price.
The Monday night arrest of Shaun Lucas of Greenville capped a tumultuous 48 hours in the life of the north Hunt County city, which also included a march of hundreds of people and an emotional but peaceful vigil where the shooting took place. After the march and vigil, however, there were reports of tense confrontations outside of the Wolfe City Hall between the demonstrators and armed citizens calling for the protestors to leave. No one was injured and no arrests were made as a result of the incidents.
Lucas was reported to be in custody at the Rockwall County Jail on Tuesday, being held in lieu of $1 million bond on the charge of murder. Lucas was originally booked into the Hunt County Detention Center, according to Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks.
“He turned himself in, so we arraigned him and booked him,” Meeks said. “He worked for us, though, before he was working for Wolfe City. So I called the Rockwall County sheriff and we transferred him over there late last night.”
It was unknown as of Tuesday whether Lucas had an attorney to represent him on the charge, or whether he would be seeking the appointment of a defense counsel by filing a writ of habeas corpus with the Hunt County District Courts.
Murder is a first-degree felony, punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of five to 99 years to life in prison.
Lucas was charged in connection with an incident Saturday night at a convenience store in the 100 block of Santa Fe Street in Wolfe City after police officers arrived at the scene of a disturbance. Witness accounts claimed Price was attempting to intercede and break up the altercation when Lucas shot him.
Lt. Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety released a statement about the arrest, indicating Lucas was responding to a reported fight in progress.
“Officer Lucas made contact with a man, later identified as 31-year-old Jonathan Price, who was reportedly involved in the disturbance,” Haschel said. “Officer Lucas attempted to detain Price, who resisted in a non-threatening posture and began walking away. Officer Lucas deployed his TASER, followed by discharging his service weapon striking Price.”
Price was transported to the Hunt Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that the actions of Officer Lucas were not objectionably reasonable,” Haschel said.
Hunt County District Attorney Noble D. Walker issued a statement Tuesday concerning the case.
“Though an arrest has been made, our office has not received the case from the Texas Rangers as it remains an active and ongoing investigation,’ Walker said. “As is customary, this case will be filed with our office once the investigation is complete. Until then, the thorough work of the Texas Rangers and others will continue. Our office will evaluate the case and present it to the Hunt County grand jury upon completion of the investigation. Based on the ongoing status of the investigation, we will not comment on the facts of the case at this time.”
The next monthly session of the Hunt County grand jury is scheduled Oct. 30.
Monday night’s vigil drew hundreds of people, who initially gathered at the site of the shooting, where an impromptu memorial of flowers, photos and memories of Price were left. The march then followed the length of Santa Fe Street and returned, as the participants chanted for justice.
Attorney Lee Merritt, who was representing Price’s family was one of the speakers during the vigil and called for immediate action in arresting and charging Lucas.
“If they killed the mayor’s son, what would happen? If they killed the governor’s son, what would happen?” Merritt asked. “Why is Jonathan Price’s life worth less than your son?”
Attorney Tony Coleman is also representing the Price family and noted he grew up alongside them and in Wolfe City, warning against problems being raised by people from outside of the community.
“We understand what has happened is outside of the norm for us,” Coleman said. “We don’t need outsiders telling us how to love. We don’t need outsiders telling us how to feel. We don’t need outsiders telling us how to mend this thing that has been torn apart. It was an outsider who caused this chaos.”