Bruce Thomas of Kirbyville
By Sandi Saulsbury
Reports of shots fired can send chills up the spine of even seasoned law enforcement officers. Last Wednesday, August 23rd at 9:42 pm, Kirbyville Police Officer, Richard Going was called out to the corner of West Levert and Odis Cooper Jr. Street following a report of shots fired in the area. Going said that as he turned onto Levert, dispatch radioed back and said they had received multiple calls of shots fired from that location. Going said that as he approached the location, he saw several people standing in the street. One of those he spoke to was identified as the victim who lived at the residence.
The man told Going that a man he identified as Bruce Thomas was the one who was shooting. It turned out that Officer Going had just passed Thomas on his way to the residence. The man said that the shooter may be at Kendra Piazza’s house on West Levert Street. Going turned and drove towards the residence. Going said, “Halfway between Odis Cooper and Third Street, a black male stepped out into the roadway and pointed a long rifle at me. I backed my patrol unit up and took a defensive position.”
Going notified dispatch of the situation and requested backup. As he exited his patrol car and got into the defensive position, he lost sight of the man. Once backup arrived, a perimeter was set up and a search for the suspect was underway.
During this time, Goings said that a man showed up and stated that he had been shot at while in his vehicle by the suspect. Officers noted that bullet holes were in the back and driver's side of the man's truck.
Then, at 10:45 p.m., Thomas was located and arrested. Jasper County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jason Hollyfield and Officer Going began searching for and photographing spent shell casings found on the ground near the end of Piazza's trailer where he reportedly took cover. The shells were taken as evidence.
Kirbyville Police Sgt. Josh Hancock spoke to Piazza who reportedly said that she didn’t know anything about the shooting or the rifle. Hancock received permission from the woman to search her home. Upon searching the home, Hancock found a Ruger Mini-14 rifle inside the residence in a gun safe. The rifle had 12 live rounds in it and one spent shell casing jammed in the rifle's action.
Hancock then spoke with Charlie Chaneyworth inside the home who said that Kendra put the gun into the gun safe herself. Chaneyworth also said that earlier, he had been outside working on a truck when the shooting took place. He said that he saw Thomas running out of the house yelling not to let her leave. Mr. Chaneyworth said that he then saw Thomas run into the street and start shooting at a truck that was stopped on West Levert Street just past Kendra's trailer. Chaneyworth said that Kendra then came outside looking for her dog and began telling Thomas to stop shooting.
Thomas was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was transported without incident to the Jasper County Jail. His bond has been set at $12,000 on the shooting, and no bond for using an ATV on a public roadway. Thomas remains in Jasper County Jail.