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Published: Wednesday, 12/24/2008

Former Utah state trooper, suspected in Dallas shootings, dies

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DALLAS A former Utah state trooper suspected in several Dallas-area roadway shootings that killed at least one motorist died on Christmas Eve, a hospital official said.

Brian Smith died Wednesday night at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, said nursing supervisor Arthur Clarke.

The 37-year-old had been in critical condition on life support from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police say he shot himself in the head after a brief standoff early Tuesday, more than six hours after the roadway shooting spree ended.

Dallas police said they think Mr. Smith was responsible for at least one death that resulted from the shootings. Garland police were still trying to verify that the gun Mr. Smith used on himself was the same used in another man s death.

Dallas police Lt. Craig Miller said authorities were working to confirm that Mr. Smith was the gunman in separate shooting deaths minutes apart Monday on a Garland street and a Dallas interstate.

Earlier Wednesday, police shut down the freeway to re-examine the scene of one of several of the shootings.

Officials said both police departments were waiting for ballistics tests to come back.

It s just another thing that s part of the investigation, Lieutenant Miller said of the second freeway examination.

It s not a critical component. That s what we wanted to do, just check everything we can.

Warrants for Mr. Smith s arrest had been issued in the Fort Worth suburb of Southlake, where authorities have obtained evidence linking him to two robberies in the past eight days.

Both incidents involved thefts in which purses were stolen from women in vehicles parked at businesses near where Mr. Smith lived.

Police have tied Mr. Smith to the incidents through witness identification and video of him using a credit card belonging to one of the victims, Southlake police spokesman Mike Bedrich said.

Mr. Smith moved to Keller with his wife and children last spring, just months after his conduct came under scrutiny from the Utah Highway Patrol. His peace officer certification was revoked after he went on a drinking binge and threatened to kill himself.

In Utah, where Mr. Smith s problems as a trooper are just now coming to light, he s remembered as a good father who never lost his temper and coached youth soccer and basketball.

This is a shock for everyone who knows Brian, said Michael Peterson, Mr. Smith s former bishop in the Mormon church.

Obviously, he was struggling with some things. But the Brian Smith that everyone around here knows would never have done any of these things.

Karen Baughman, a neighbor in Keller, said Mr. Smith and other members of his family showed up on her doorstep last Sunday with Christmas cookies they d brought home from church.

He was just hanging Christmas lights two weeks ago, she said. I mean, this is dumbfounding.

The Garland shooting Monday happened at a major intersection, when a driver pulled up alongside a small Nissan and shot and killed the Nissan s driver, 20-year-old Jorge George Lopez of Rowlett, Texas, said Garland police spokesman Joe Harn.

Three semitrailer drivers were later shot at on I-635, and one of those three died. William Miller, a 42-year-old married father of two from Frankfort, Ky., was on his way to get on a plane to go home to his family for the holidays.

Mr. Harn said Garland police are still waiting for tests to determine if the gun Mr. Smith used on himself is the same one used in Mr. Lopez s death.

I can tell you this: There s nothing telling us so far that it s not him, Mr. Harn said.



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