DALLAS, TEXAS –
A Keller man who is suspected of killing two men during a crime spree Monday has died.
Brian Smith, a former Utah state trooper and the father of five children, died at 6 p.m. at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, a spokesman said.
Smith shot himself early Tuesday after a standoff with police in Garland.
Two days after the bizarre chain of events that led to the fatal shootings in Garland and Dallas, family and friends struggled to understand the actions of Smith.
“When he was here, he was just the best of neighbors. One of the greatest guys I know,” said Cindi Schut, who lived across the street from the Smith family in Herriman, a suburb of Salt Lake City, for three years. “I can’t image him being anything else.”
Two years ago, when Schut’s son, Dallin, was 9, he was assigned to write an essay about a hero. He chose Smith.
Dallin still cherishes the small mahogany box with the governor’s seal that Smith gave him after reading the essay, Schut said. The box was a gift from Gov. Mike Leavitt to Smith, who served as Leavitt’s body guard for several years.
The Smiths have four boys and one girl, Schut said. The oldest is 9, the youngest an infant.
Smith volunteered with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Utah, Schut said. The family was also active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said.
At some point, Smith hurt his back and couldn’t shovel snow, Schut said, so he borrowed their snow blower “and he loved it so much, he would do everybody else’s, too.”
“I want people to know this is not who he is,” Schut said. “Something has happened to change him because he’s not that kind of a person at all.”
Smith began abusing alcohol and prescription drugs after an on-duty traffic accident, according to a Utah Police Officer Standards and Training investigation report.
Utah Department of Public Safety officials could not provide details Wednesday about when the accident happened or the severity of Smith’s injuries. But in January, he threatened to kill himself after drinking heavily, according to the report.
The incident prompted an investigation that led to Smith surrendering his law enforcement certification in May.
In late March, Smith and his wife bought a $275,000, 3,200-square-foot home on Branchview Court in Keller, according to public records. Friends and colleagues said Smith was excited about a job opportunity in North Texas, but details were scarce.
The family was well-received in the Highland Creek Estates subdivision. Tracie Gates said her children and Smith’s children played together.
Sometimes they would all go over to sit on the stone lion statues that Gates has on either side of her front walkway. Sometimes they would catch frogs and release them into a nearby pond, she said.
Attempts to contact Smith’s relatives were unsuccessful.
Earlier this month, Southlake police obtained arrest warrants for Smith accusing him of two crimes, said Sgt. Mike Bedrich, a police spokesman.
The first, an aggravated robbery, occurred Dec. 17 in the 600 block of East Farm Road 1709 — also known as Southlake Boulevard — Bedrich said. About midday, a woman sitting in her car in a strip mall parking lot was approached by a male and sprayed with pepper spray or something similar, Bedrich said Wednesday.
The man then reached over the woman and grabbed her purse. Police later obtained surveillance video of the suspect using the victim’s credit cards.
On Monday, a purse was taken from an unoccupied vehicle in the 1500 block of Farm Road 1709, Bedrich said. He declined to specify what evidence linked the crime to Smith.
The arrest warrants remain unserved, Bedrich said Wednesday.
It was later Monday, at 5:25 p.m., when a man who identified himself as Brian Smith robbed a Kroger pharmacy in Garland, police spokesman Joe Harn said.
The man said he was there to refill a prescription for OxyContin, Harn said. He then produced a handgun, jumped over the counter and grabbed the drug before fleeing.
Minutes later, Jorge Lopez, 20 of Rowlett, was fatally shot at an intersection north of Interstate 635 in Garland. Next, shots were fired at an 18-wheeler on I-635 near Jupiter Road, but the driver was not hit. Minutes later, more shots were fired at another 18-wheeler, and driver, William Scott Miller, 42 of Kentucky was killed. Shots were then fired at a third 18-wheeler and the driver was hit by flying glass.
As Dallas County police searched for the rush-hour gunman Monday, Southlake police relayed information that Smith might be in the area, armed and suicidal, driving his Honda CRV.
It remained unclear Wednesday how Southlake authorities got that information, Bedrich said.
Until the tip from Southlake police, Dallas County authorities had been working with a witness description indicating that the Garland shooter was driving a tan Ford F150 pickup.
About 9 p.m. Monday, Garland police found Smith in the Honda. He did not respond to officers’ orders, and a SWAT team was called in.
Early Tuesday, he shot himself and was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, police said.
Police are awaiting ballistics tests to compare the bullets from Smith’s vehicle with the other shootings. Dallas police have said early results indicate Smith was the shooter.
On Wednesday, Harn declined to comment on the tests until they are complete but said the results and further investigation could explain whether two different vehicles were involved.