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Arrests Involving Texas Concealed Handgun License Holders

Taken From the January 1998 VPC Study License to Kill

Aggravated Kidnapping—Seguin, Texas

  • On April 28, 1997 concealed handgun license holder Diane James was arrested by Seguin, Texas police in the aggravated kidnapping of a young woman. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Diane James and her husband David abducted a San Antonio woman in her 30s off the street as she walked home. According to police reports the woman was assaulted with a stun gun, pulled into the James' van, and then taken to their home where she was kept naked and in chains. The woman reportedly told police that David James told her she was going to be "trained" as a sex slave. The woman escaped the next morning and ran to a neighbor's home. David James—armed with an AR-15 assault rifle—followed the woman to the neighbor's home. When the police arrived at the scene a shootout ensued in which David James was killed. Diane James was convicted of aggravated kidnapping on November 21, 1997 and was sentenced to 15 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Penitentiary.

Capital Murder—Houston, Texas

  • On May 15, 1996 concealed handgun license holder Francisco Santos-Rojo was arrested for attempted capital murder in connection with the robbery-slaying of diamond broker Janos Szuc in Szuc's southwest Houston office on January 24, 1996. Houston police report that Santos-Rojo allegedly paid off a cleaning woman for security access into Szuc's office building and waited outside in a getaway car during the incident. According to the Houston Chronicle, brothers Alberto and Reinaldo Dennes allegedly shot and wounded a security guard in Szuc's building with a 9mm pistol fitted with a silencer, shot and killed Szuc, and then stole $3.6 million in diamonds from Szuc's office safe before driving off with Santos-Rojo. The Dennes brothers were arrested and charged with capital murder in late February 1996, and Santos-Rojo was arrested in May. He was later indicted for capital murder. Houston police state that Santos-Rojo was released on bond and is awaiting trial.

Murder—Pinehurst, Texas

  • On May 19, 1997 concealed handgun license holder Daniel Meehan of Pinehurst, Texas was arrested for the alleged shooting death of a woman who had been living with him. According to reports in the Orange Leader, Selma Pieruccini was found dead in her home from a 9mm gunshot wound in the back. At the time of her death she was separated from her husband who was caring for their four children in Pennsylvania. The Beaumont Enterprise reports that Meehan was charged with murder and remains in custody at the Orange County Jail without bail.

Attempted Murder—Midlothian, Texas

  • On July 9, 1997 the Midlothian Police Department arrested concealed handgun license holder Stephen Ray Harrelson for attempted murder. According to an article in Midlothian Today, Harrelson allegedly entered his estranged wife's home and forced her into a back room. There, he allegedly stuck a pistol to her head. The woman contacted her children in front of the home and they were able to alert the police by calling 911. A struggle broke out and the woman was able to get Harrelson to leave. A police pursuit of Harrelson—who still had his firearm—ensued. According to police, when he was located Harrelson threatened to kill himself. He eventually laid down his weapon and surrendered. Harrelson was released on bond and is awaiting trial.

Driving While Intoxicated—Cleveland, Texas

  • On March 8, 1996 concealed handgun license holder Thomas Earl Richardson was arrested by the Cleveland, Texas police department for driving while intoxicated and unlawfully carrying a handgun by a license holder. The officer who filed the report noted that "the ‘92 Toyota came close to hitting the concrete wall on the right side of the highway three times and the vehicle crossed the left center lane four times." The reporting officer also noted that he had to pull a stumbling Mr. Richardson away from oncoming traffic as he exited his car: "Due to Richardson's demeanor, poor balance, and inability to walk without going sideways, this officer felt that it would be safest to take Richardson into custody and placed him in the patrol car before he got hit by oncoming traffic." The officer found a loaded Colt .45 pistol and two extra loaded clips in Mr. Richardson's car. The reporting officer noted that the Intoxilyzer revealed that Mr. Richardson's alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. Mr. Richardson plead guilty to the driving while intoxicated charge. He received one year probation, a $400 fine, and $232 in court costs. His driver's license was probated for 90 days. The charge for unlawfully carrying a handgun was dropped.

Unlawful Carrying—Houston, Texas

  • In an incident reported by the Houston Police Department, a concealed handgun license holder was arrested on April 10,1996 at the George Bush Airport for carrying a firearm in a prohibited area. Details on the offense noted that the "defendant placed carry-on bag on the X-ray belt at the airline screening check point with handgun inside." The officer noted that "defendant stated that she thought she had left the gun at home and did not know the gun was inside her bag."

Suicide—Austin, Texas

  • On March 10, 1996 Austin Police reported the handgun suicide of a white male who was a concealed handgun license holder. According to the police report, the victim's wife had moved out of their house earlier that day. The victim had reportedly called his wife threatening to kill himself. When his wife arrived at the house she found her husband dead of an apparent gunshot wound to the chest. She reported that while her husband had never previously threatened to kill himself, he did suffer from depression, was on medication, and had a "drinking problem."

Unintentional Shooting—Austin, Texas

  • On March 23, 1996 Austin police were dispatched to a shooting call after concealed handgun license holder Harry Hart was reported to have unintentionally shot himself in the foot at the Thrift Town discount store in Austin. In the police description of the incident, the reporting officer noted, "Harry advised that he was in the rear of the store in the book area. He had gotten a book and was sitting down on the bench. He had in the rear of his pants in his lower back area a loaded Springfield Armory model 1911-A1 .45 semi-automatic [pistol]....As Harry sat down the weapon was uncomfortable in his back/buttocks area. As Harry attempted to adjust the weapon it fired one round. The hammer on the weapon was cocked and locked and there is a safety on the hand grip. The round exited the holster, Harry's blue jeans, went through the bench and into Harry's right foot. There was no exit wound in Harry's right foot....Harry holds a valid concealed handgun license...." Four days later the reporting officer wrote, "I informed him [Harry Hart] that we would not be pursuing charges, but I encouraged him to seek safe ways to carry his weapon. I did not find anything in the new gun laws involving licensed permit holders involved in accidental shootings. I also contacted Diane Lawson, the person who instructed his gun class to let her know what happened, and ask that she stress safety in carrying weapons."

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The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.