Joseph Pappas, the man suspected of killing prominent Houston surgeon Mark Hausknecht, shot himself as two officers surrounded him on Friday morning, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters.
Officers cornered the 62-year-old after a city employee found his wallet on the ground and called the police. The suspect, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, refused to put his hands up when asked by the first officer on the scene, Mr Acevedo said. The arrival of a second officer may have prevented a shoot-out, he added.
“You don’t wear body armour when you’re thinking of suicide,” the police chief said.
Authorities had been searching for Mr Pappas since Tuesday, when a tipster identified him from a surveillance video taken on the day of the shooting. The video showed a fellow cyclist shooting the doctor three times as he biked through the Texas Medical Centre, where he worked. The cyclist could be seen fleeing the scene after the shooting.
Police believe Mr Pappas has held a grudge against Mr Hausknecht for 20 years, ever since his mother died on the doctor’s operating table. Investigators said Mr Pappas – a trained marksman and former Texas constable – “painstakingly planned” the murder.
When police searched Mr Pappas’ house earlier this week, they found “plenty of evidence that shows an extreme interest … in the doctor,” Mr Acevedo told CNN. It was then that they issued an arrest warrant.
Days before the shooting, Mr Pappas reportedly transferred the deed to his home to a woman in Ohio. The woman, who had known Mr Pappas for 25 years, told the Ohio News-Herald that her daughter was set to meet Mr Pappas in Houston on 30 July. Instead, he texted her to say he was committing suicide.
“Sorry for handling things this way,” he said in the text, according to the paper. “House and property is now yours. Please make best use of it for you and [your daughter].”
Mr Hausknecht, 65, was a well-known surgeon who previously served as former President George HW Bush’s cardiologist. An obituary in the Houston Chronicle described him as a “voracious reader, pilot, chef, DIY repairman, beekeeper, recycler, urban gardener, cyclist and lover of music and the arts”.
“Patients from all walks of life felt a special bond with Dr. Mark,” the obituary read. “Listening and taking the time to explain things to each patient, earned him their gratitude and affection.”
“He, in turn, felt honoured to be their physician.”
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