Editor’s note: In the video above, Senator Joan Huffman is referred to as a Dallas-area lawmaker. Sen. Huffman represents Texas Senate District 17, which covers the Houston area. We apologize for the error.
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Bexar County officials revealed the man accused of a shooting spree across Central Texas was already facing previous criminal charges in that jurisdiction, including an incident where he cut off his ankle monitor.
Shane James, 34, was booked into jail on capital murder charges on Wednesday. He is accused of shooting and killing six people and wounding three others in different locations across Austin, as well as at his family home in San Antonio.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar detailed previous interactions his office had with James, stemming from an assault involving family in January 2022. Salazar explained, after conversations with James’ family at the time about mental health concerns, he was released from jail on bond.
One day later, Salazar and court records confirmed, James removed his ankle monitor, turning his three misdemeanor assault charges into active warrants for his arrest.
The sheriff emphasized that at the time, in March 2022, tampering with an ankle monitor was considered an administrative violation and didn’t carry an additional, criminal penalty.
Since then, a new Texas law in place promises harsher penalties for people out on bond or on parole who knowingly tamper with, disable or destroy an ankle monitor.
The law, which went into effect in September 2023, means anyone accused of doing so will face a separate felony offense.
Gov. Greg Abbott championed the change in a letter to top legislative leaders just days before the start of the 88th legislative session, writing “it is clear that legislative action is needed.” In the letter, Abbott referenced two deadly cases that made headlines in the Dallas area.
In one incident, the man accused of shooting two hospital employees was already on parole for aggravated robbery and was wearing an active ankle monitor, according to police. The other case Abbott mentioned involved an alleged murder at a home in the Lake Highlands neighborhood.
“It is clear that the ankle monitors, a condition of their parole, were not effective in deterring or otherwise preventing these individuals from going on to commit violent crimes, resulting in three innocent lives being lost,” Abbott wrote at the time.
A bill authored by Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston ultimately passed and was signed into law. A similar bill was filing by Representative Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas.
In March KXAN reported more than 70,000 people were currently on parole in Texas and 4,315 of them had a monitoring device at the time, according to Huffman. In the last year, she said 1,127 monitor straps were either cut or there was an active warrant for a cut strap.
In James’ case of the active warrants from 2022, the Bexar County Sheriff explained officers were “limited” at the time in their authority to pursue action because of its misdemeanor status.
“Do y’all want them to camp outside a home for misdemeanor warrants — that, even if we get eyes on the guy… Let’s say we saw him through a window, and we know he is in there — on a misdemeanor warrant, we don’t have the authority to go kick in a door. On a felony warrant, absolutely, we have the authority to go after this person,” Salazar said.
Salazar explained his deputies responded to James’ parents’ home again in August 2023, one month before the law involving ankle monitors went into effect. He detailed his deputies response to an apparent mental health episode.
“They made the intent to try to de-escalate. When that failed, they left the location, again, in hopes of coming back, but it appears to me that at that time they wanted to avoid a violent confrontation. So, absolutely, I wish we had been able to get him in custody. Now with that being said — it’s saying a lot to say, ‘if they just had arrested him that day, this wouldn’t have happened,’” Salazar said.
James is now a suspect in the murder of his parents at their San Antonio home.
Then, police believe he traveled to Austin, where they say he killed two people on Shadywood Drive in south Austin before shooting and injuring an Austin Independent School District officer at Northeast Early College High School Tuesday morning.
Later that day, police said they believe the suspect injured a cyclist in South Austin and an Austin police officer, who was responding to a burglary call on Austral Loop in the Circle C community. There, police found two more “apparent victims” of James in the home.
Bexar County officials said they received a call on Tuesday night about the incidents from Austin Police. They believe James’ parents were killed sometime overnight Monday or early Tuesday morning.