ALICE, Texas -- Alice police officer Jose Gonzales III was supposed to report for duty at 7 a.m. Monday.
Instead, authorities said, Gonzales, wearing his police uniform pants and a jacket, and armed with police-issued rifles and handguns, went to Corpus Christi for a fatal confrontation with his commonlaw wife, who left him less than two weeks ago.
Leslie Morin, 31, died after being shot multiple times, said Ric Ortiz, chief investigator with the Nueces County medical examiner's office.
Gonzales, 44, eventually surrendered to police and was charged with murder. Bail was set at $250,000, and he was being held in the Nueces County Jail.
Authorities have not released a motive for the shooting, saying it is still under investigation.
Alice Police Chief Daniel Bueno said Gonzales had been upset about the recent separation from Morin.
"She left to Annaville; he stayed behind," Bueno said.
Police were called to the shooting about 7:30 a.m. in the 100 block of Highwood Street in Annaville.
Morin and her mother were hiding in a closet when Gonzales broke open the door, grabbed Morin and shot her, Ortiz said. Morin's mother was unharmed.
Witnesses said Gonzales left the home with the couple's 8-year-old son. Authorities worried Gonzales might hurt the boy or himself, but Bueno said Gonzales never threatened to injure his son.
Authorities in two counties searched for Gonzales before finding his pickup parked at his home in Alice within about an hour of the shooting. Bueno said officers had been driving by the home, anticipating Gonzales might go there.
During the search one of Gonzales' superiors, Alice Police Lt. Alberto Martinez, spoke with Gonzales on the phone, even praying with him in hopes of keeping him calm, Bueno said. He credited Martinez, a 22-year veteran of the department, with leading Gonzales to a peaceful surrender.
"As he kept talking to him," Bueno said, Gonzales "kept getting calmer and calmer and calmer."
"I don't think enough could be said as far as Albert's involvement in diffusing the situation," said Alice Mayor John Lemon, who also is an assistant district attorney for Jim Wells County.
"Due to Albert's diligence and staying on the phone, we were able to not only track down the suspect but also able to have as good a conclusion as we could have with no further fatalities."
Lemon called the day tragic and said his heart goes out to Morin's family. "If there's anything that the city can do for the family, please let us know," he said.
Gonzales was tracked to his house in the 1100 block of Washington Street in Alice, a one-story brick home in a quiet neighborhood where most residents had already gone to work for the day.
Yvette DeLeon was about five houses away visiting her mother when dozens of police cars swarmed the neighborhood.
DeLeon said the boy emerged from the house about 8:30 a.m., towing a small piece of luggage behind him. A short time later, she said, Gonzales emerged, hands in the air and his white T-shirt rolled up to show he had no weapons. Gonzales lay on the ground and was taken into custody, De-Leon said.
It was Martinez who convinced Gonzales to allow the child to walk to a car where his grandparents were waiting, Bueno said, and Martinez who ultimately talked Gonzales into giving up.
Another neighbor said he was outside in the morning, looking into the alleyway that separates his home from Gonzales' house, when a group of SWAT officers came running up the alley and told him to go inside. At one point, the officers perched atop another neighbor's house.
The neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he was glad when Gonzales, known to many as "Officer Joey," moved into the house, because he liked the security of having additional police presence.
"He seemed like a nice guy," the neighbor said.
Two area schools were locked down for safety Monday morning, the Alice Independent School District reported.