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Police: Texas Constable Was Likely Shot Before Reaching Gunman's Door

Aug. 15--Constable Brian Bachmann likely was shot before even reaching the front door of 211 Fidelity Street, where he intended to hand Thomas Alton Caffall III a notice that an eviction hearing had been scheduled and his presence would be requested, College Station Police Chief Jeff Capps said on Tuesday.

Capps' department's investigation into what exactly transpired after the 41-year-old veteran law enforcement officer was shot down continued as detectives worked to process the two-block crime scene tucked away in the city's historic district neighborhood near George Bush Drive and Wellborn.

In the end, the constable, a bystander and the shooter were left dead, while three College Station officers and a woman in her car were wounded.

One of the officers hurt, 25-year-old Justin Oehlke, who joined the department about a year ago, was shot in the calf and had to undergo surgery. He was expected to be released by Wednesday.

Officers Phil Dorsett, 30 and a five-year veteran, and Brad Smith, 54, who's been with the department for nearly 16 years, received shrapnel wounds but were released from the hospital Monday.

All three officers are on paid administrative leave as they recover from the incident mentally and physically, Capps said.

Chris Northcliffe, 51, was fatally shot on Highlands Street between Fidelity and Park Place while standing outside his vehicle, officials said.

Capps said processing the crime scene would likely continue through Tuesday night, but at about 5:30 p.m. authorities had scaled back the scene and were focusing on Caffall's home and the immediate surrounding area, letting observers get a better view of the aftermath.

Near the area where police said Northcliffe died, what appeared to be the outline of a body laying halfway in the grass and half in the street was spray painted in a bright orange color, with a dark soiled spot located in the center.

In front of the house next door to where Northcliffe fell, 51-year-old Barbara Holdsworth had been shot three times inside her car parked on Highlands Street, authorities said. She was in the neighborhood helping her daughter move, police said.

Glass from a shattered vehicle window littered the street, marking the spot where Holdsworth was hit.

Smith was the first officer on scene after Bachmann was shot and immediately began receiving rounds from Caffall, who was shooting from his front yard, Capps said.

Caffall continued firing shots as law enforcement officers arrived and returned fire. At one point some of them took cover behind a fence in a backyard located caddy-corner to Caffall's residence at the intersection of Fidelity and Highlands.

Several witnesses told The Eagle that Caffall was seen taking Bachmann's gun and ammo off his belt after shooting him, which Capps confirmed Tuesday.

Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Michael McCleary said Bachmann was wearing a bulletproof vest Monday, but he wouldn't comment specifically on where the constable was shot.

Capps declined to discuss details of where or how many times Bachmann was shot, or with what weapon.

In a press conference, he said that several "long guns and pistols" had been recovered from Caffall's house, but he didn't provide further details.

Caffall was a weapons enthusiast who in June 2011 posted on his Facebook page a picture of a vz. 58., a Czechoslovakian-made assault rifle which, Caffall wrote, he had just "picked up today" and couldn't wait to try out at a shooting range.

Capps said Northcliffe and Holdsworth were shot after being caught in the line of fire, but exactly when they were hit during the incident remained unclear.

All local law enforcement agencies are assisting in the investigations, along with Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety officials and federal investigators, Capps said.

He said officers were doing their best to stay focused on the task at hand despite the overwhelming sadness felt in losing one of their own.

"I'm very proud of our staff," he said. "I think right now everyone's thoughts are on Brian's family and trying to help them get though this in the next coming days."

Once the investigations into the shooting of Bachmann and Caffall have wrapped up, Texas Rangers and the College Station Police Department will hand in separate investigations that will be reviewed by the district attorney's office and taken before the grand jury.

The process is standard in any officer-involved shooting incident, as is the internal investigation that's been launched within the College Station Police Department.

"The internal investigation is conducted just to make sure that we did everything by our policies and standards," he said.

Copyright 2012 - The Eagle, Bryan, Texas

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