Records show Tarleton police disarmed gunman, prevent potential shooting on campus
BY SARAH HAYNER
Tarleton Police appear to have saved the campus from becoming another number in school shooting statistics with their prompt action and response to an armed student on campus on Nov. 13, 2018.
Tarleton PD received a call from Stephenville PD dispatch about a call they received from Lauran Dowdy who said her ex-boyfriend, Hunter Durham, “had a 9mm gun and he was on his way back to Stephenville,” according to a police report on the incident obtained by former Texan News staffer Samuel Tucker. When Tucker requested the records last year, the university asked the Texas Attorney General whether they could be released, and the university released a heavily redacted copy of the report on Feb. 5, 2020, about a year and a half after the report was made. This story is primarily based on that 21-page report. To read the report, go to http://texannews.net/tsu-gun-incident-police-report/
At the time Dowdy made the call, she said Durham was in Granbury where he had just bought an AR-15 from Parts and Sports Center. The student had actually purchased an AM-15 rifle from Marksmen Firearms in Granbury, records show. An AM-15 rifle is what Anderson calls their AR-15 rifles.
Tarleton police reported the call as a welfare concern for Durham and sent Officer Jeff Alexander to Durham’s room at Integrity Hall. When he arrived, he met Juana Moncada, the resident coordinator of Integrity Hall. In her office was one of Durham’s friends, Ryan Halford.
Halford said he was “very worried and mislead. It wasn’t all in the light. Honestly, I still don’t know. He (Durham) would say one thing and it wouldn’t be like the whole truth, and there would be some stuff he is leaving out,” Halford said of the situation in an interview with Texan News.
“Ryan had on his phone a screenshot of a message from the student stating that he lost his girl of his dreams and he was failing his classes. He also said that he had bought a 9mm rifle,” Alexander said.
“Police Chief Matt Welch said that he talked to Officer Kemp with the Granbury Police Department. Officer Kemp told Chief Welch that he patted the student down and he didn’t find any weapons on him and released him to leave. Officer Kemp said that he did not search his vehicle,” Alexander said.
When Officer Alexander and Moncada made it up to Durham’s room, they found his roommate Brandon Alexander.
“His girlfriend called me and said ‘I’m looking for Hunter right now. Apparently, they were gonna break up and he was not taking it healthy or right,” Alexander told Texan News. “I was sad, hurt and mad at him.”
Alexander and Moncada did an administrative search of Durham’s room.
“As Juana was doing her administration search, we noticed in the top drawer there were several prescription bottles of medication,” Alexander wrote. It’s not specified in the report what kind of prescriptions they were. They did not find any firearms in the dorm room.
Welch briefed Officer Charles Gilliland on the ongoing welfare concern about Durham. Gilliland wrote the information report about Durham being arrested and taken to the hospital.
“He briefed me on the call and concern about the suspect bringing a gun on campus and trying to [redacted] or others,” Gilliland said.
The report says Loya found a truck in the P-29 parking lot on campus that matched Durham’s vehicle description.
“The truck was backed into a parking spot, was running, and windows were up,” according to the report. “Loya approached the truck and as he did, he noticed the person in the driver seat was looking down at a rifle that was positioned between his legs with the barrel pointed down,” Gilliland wrote. “Suspect Durham was preparing to load the 30-round magazine with 5.56 ammo.”
“Loya got suspect Durham’s attention and told him to roll down the driver side window. As suspect Durham complied, Loya ordered him to put his hands on the steering wheel. Loya then grabbed suspect Durham left wrist and opened the truck door. Maintaining control of suspect Durham, Loya grabbed the rifle and threw it clear of the truck. He then pulled suspect Durham out of the truck and put him on the ground. Loya handcuffed suspect Durham and notified all other officers, via portable radio, that he had the suspect in custody (7:01pm),” Gilliland wrote.
In a supplemental report on the incident, officer John Schloeman wrote “Suspect Durham had demonstrated that he was a danger [redacted] to others by his actions and his articulation of [redacted]. Suspect Durham also had the means to carry out the threat against [redacted] other that may have been nearby or had tried to intervene.”
“Due to his immediate access to weapons there was no time to procure a warrant before Loya took him into custody,” Schloeman wrote. “Officer Loya followed me to the hospital and guarded the suspect until which time suspect could be evaluated by counseling services. Suspect (Durham) was released to the custody of the hospital and counseling services personnel uninjured and in good physical condition.”
Schloeman’s report states that police “received information through a phone call that the suspect was making threats [redacted] and making other threats out [redacted]. Witness stated that suspect had made statements that he would be [redacted]. She further advised me that she was advised by witness (Dowdy) that suspect stated to her that he was going to [redacted].”
Tarleton police confiscated an Anderson AM-15 rifle, a 30-round magazine, three pocket knives, two boxes of Prvi Partizan brand 5.56×45 ammunition and a receipt for the weapon, according to the report.
Tarleton police’s quick response to the incident appears to have spared the university of potential tragedy.
Officer Welch said that he could not comment on the situation.
University spokeswoman Cecilia Jacobs released the following statement on behalf of Tarleton State University.
“Tarleton has no comment pending ongoing conversations between The Texas A&M University System and the Office of the Attorney General,” Jacobs said.
Texan News decided to publish Durham’s name because Tarleton released his name in the records that were sent to Tucker.
Texan News is awaiting comment from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and the vice chancellor for marketing and communications for Texas A&M system, Laylan Copelin, about the incident.
Texan News attempted to contact Hunter Durham by phone, Facebook and by U.S. certified mail, which the postal official said was delivered on Feb. 14. He has not responded.
For updates on the story and responses, check out Texannews.net.
Editor note: The print version has “Tarleton PD received a call” when it was Stephenville PD who had received the call and let Tarleton PD know.