A gunman injured a Hays County sheriff’s deputy early Friday when he unleashed a hail of shotgun fire at law enforcement officers in Wimberley in what appeared to be an ambush, according to Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler.
Officers fired back and likely felled the suspected shooter, Rocky Miles West, a 26-year-old local man with a lengthy criminal record who was found dead at the scene, Cutler said.
According to deputies’ initial investigation, West struck three sheriff’s office patrol vehicles and 28-year-old Deputy Benjamin Gieselman, who has been on the force for three years.
“We’ve got an officer in the hospital right now who is a very lucky man,” Cutler said, describing Gieselman’s condition as “fair.”
He said his office’s investigation is still ongoing and that the Texas Rangers have been called in to perform an independent examination of the shootout and what led to it.
“It does, at this point, appear that officers were ambushed, the suspect was killed by officers, and that’s probably what this will turn out to be,” Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said.
The shooting unfolded shortly before 4 a.m., in the hill above Jean’s Antique Mall, which sits on a desolate two-lane stretch of RM 12 near Wimberley’s southern edge.
Hays County authorities dispatched four deputies after receiving a 911 call that reported an armed man was attempting to rob the shop, Cutler said.
The officers arrived to find no signs of a break-in, authorities said, so they moved up the road that ran behind the shop and began to search the hilly, wooded area just above it.
That’s when West is reported to have pulled the trigger on his shotgun as he hid behind a stone wall that runs along the road — firing nine shots from a 12-gauge shotgun and injuring Gieselman, Cutler said.
Officers shot back and later found West dead, apparently killed by the deputies’ gunfire, Cutler said.
Cutler described the confrontation as a setup contrived by West, adding that investigators suspect West had placed the 911 call himself.
There was no evidence the store was broken into at all, Cutler said.
“The owner of the store has gone down this morning and gone through it, and nothing was broken and nothing is missing,” Cutler said.
Petra Drumwright, the owner of Jean’s Antique Mall, confirmed this and said the store opened Friday as normal.
West has a decadelong list of run-ins with Hays County law enforcement and was familiar with the area.
A résumé he posted online showed he claimed a year’s experience working at the antique shop as a gardener in 2006 and 2007.
That next year, in 2008, West was arrested on charge of drug possession, the first of his six arrests in Hays County. He was most recently arrested in January on a misdemeanor assault charge, which he was convicted of in August.