By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – An officer with the Woodville Police Department was shot and wounded during an incident that occurred on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 17.
According to Woodville Chief of Police Mike McCulley, officer Troy Costello was shot by a suspect, identified as 41-year-old Reginal “Reggie” Owens, of Hemphill, who was later shot and killed by officer following a pursuit. Costello responded to a call on the 200 block of Shivers Drive in reference to a suspicious male subject causing a disturbance.
When Costello attempted to make contact with the male subject, whom he observed in a white pickup truck parked on the street, the man ignored his verbal commands to stop and drove away.
According to McCulley, Costello pursued the vehicle for several blocks down Shivers and onto MLK Drive, and radioed for assistance, while in pursuit, before blocking the subject into a private driveway.
The suspect, Owens, continued to evade by driving in reverse, and when Costello was finally able to approach the driver side of the vehicle, he was shot, and the suspect left the scene.
When the suspect’s vehicle was reported to be back at the Shivers location a while later, deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office arrived to assist. Some witnesses observed Owens flee, on foot, into a wooded area south of Shivers Drive, and several TCSO deputies and Woodville PD officers set up a search perimeter. McCulley said that at approximately 8:24 a.m., deputies saw the suspect exit the wooded area, with a handgun in his waistband. The deputies ordered him to stop and lie down, with arms extended, which he ignored.
“The suspect was non-compliant and hostile toward the officers, and made an aggressive movement toward the handgun,” McCulley said.
Multiple officers fired on the suspect, and he was pronounced dead at the scene by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Tina Self.
Costello, a five-year veteran of the Woodville PD, was airlifted to a Houston area hospital where he has been undergoing surgeries. According to a public social media update from his wife, the bullet missed his spine and “every vital structure,” but hit his jaw and got stuck within the soft tissues of his neck.
The Texas Rangers are currently investigating both of the shootings. According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, three TCSO deputies were involved in trying to apprehend Owens, and are currently on administrative leave, which is standard procedure following an officer-involved shooting.
In the wake of the events of Sunday morning, an outpouring of public support has blanketed the city of Woodville for Costello and the Woodville PD. Support for Costello on social media channels has also been strong, with many Facebook users in the area changing their profile avatars to an image of Costello’s badge number (389), or of an image with a blue line calling on the public to pray for him.
“Our department asks the public to keep Officer Costello and his family in your prayers,” McCulley said.
At press time, donations were being collected for Costello and his family, and we will have more information on how the public can help, as well as any updates via the Booster Facebook page and through East Texas News dot com.