HOUSTON — Thousands of mourners gathered Friday for a final salute to a deputy sheriff shot to death last week while fueling his patrol car near Houston.
Deputy Darren H. Goforth died August 28 when a gunman came up behind him at a gas station and shot him in the back.
When he fell, the shooter stood over him and fired more shots, authorities said.
Goforth was in his Harris County Sheriff’s Office uniform at the time of the shooting, which officials described as an “execution-style” attack.
Police and law enforcement personnel from as far away as California and New York City attended the funeral Friday at the Second Baptist Church in west Houston.
Goforth’s wife, Kathleen, looked genuinely moved by their attendance. As the officers stood at attention and saluted her, she saluted them back.
A 21-gun salute and a helicopter flyover concluded services for the slain officer as his coffin was carried by the Harris County Sheriff’s honor guard out of the church.
Flags across Texas were at half-staff Friday in honor of Goforth.
Suspect to undergo a psychological exam
Shannon J. Miles, 30, is charged with capital murder in the killing of Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who was shot 15 times, authorities said.
Miles plans to plead not guilty, and told his lawyers he was not involved in the shooting, said Anthony Osso, his court-appointed attorney.
Miles made his initial appearance at the Harris County District Court in Houston this week wearing the yellow jumpsuit assigned to high-security inmates.
This is not his first brush with the law. Three years ago, Miles was found mentally incompetent to stand trial on a separate felony assault charge, a prosecutor said this week.
At the time, he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after fighting a man at an Austin homeless shelter over the TV remote control, said Joe Frederick, a prosecutor in Travis County.
Miles will undergo a psychological examination as part of his background investigation, Osso said. His defense team will include psychological experts, he said.
Mix of ‘toughness and gentility’
Kathleen Goforth described her fallen officer husband to CNN affiliate KTRK in Houston as “an incredibly, intricate blend of toughness and gentility.”
Goforth was guided by an inner moral compass, she said, adding that she was lucky to have been married to him.
“He was who you wanted for a friend, a colleague and a neighbor,” she said.
About 30 minutes before the shooting, Goforth had investigated an accident, but authorities said it’s unclear whether there was a connection to the attack. There is no evidence that the victim and the suspect knew each other.
“I have been in law enforcement (for) 45 years,” Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said. “I don’t recall another incident this cold-blooded and cowardly.”
Hickman said the attack was “unprovoked,” and Goforth was targeted simply because “he was wearing a uniform.”
In addition to his wife, Goforth leaves behind two children, ages 5 and 12.
“Our hearts go out to them,” Hickman said, asking the community to remember his family in prayer.
“In times like these, it’s important to ask for the prayers from this community,” he said. “It strikes us in the heart to simply be a target because you wear a badge.”