The 62-year-old man wanted for the murder of a prominent Texas cardiologist put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger when confronted by police officers Friday morning.
Joseph Pappas was pronounced dead on a suburban Houston street following an intense manhunt. Police described him earlier this week as armed, dangerous and suicidal. He was wanted in the shooting death of Dr. Mark Hausknecht, a doctor who had treated President George H.W. Bush.
Pappas had nursed a 20-year grudge against the doctor over the death of his mother, who died on the operating table under Hausknecht’s care, police said.
Pappas turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger when confronted by two Houston officers, Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference. A parks employee had called the cops after recognizing the fugitive, who he found sitting near a bayou.
When Pappas walked away, the worker found a wallet that belonged to him.
An officer arrived and approached the man, telling him to show his hands. Pappas, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, raised his left hand but his right remained at his side, Acevedo said.
When a second officer arrived, Pappas pulled out a revolver with his right hand and shot himself.
The police chief said Pappas may have been preparing for a gun battle with police.
“You don’t put on a bulletproof vest to commit suicide,” Acevedo said. “You’re not thinking about suicide; you’re thinking about survival.”
A possible hit list was found in Pappas’ home, police said, containing the names of other medical workers at the hospital where his mother had died.
Pappas was charged this week with killing Hausknecht, who was shot twice in the torso and once in the head last month in broad daylight as he biked to work. Pappas had been following the physician. At one point, he biked past the doctor, turned and opened fire, police said.
“This doesn’t bring anybody back, but it does bring closure to this community and the Hausknecht family,” Acevedo said.
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