BASTROP COUNTY, Texas — A Bastrop County deputy is in the hospital in stable condition after he was shot three times late Sunday night.
Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook said Deputy Sawyer Wilson was shot in his bulletproof vest, his rear and once in his forearm. His forearm bone is shattered, but Cook said his vest likely saved his life.
By around noon Monday, the sheriff's office said the suspect, 33-year-old Michael Stark, had been arrested. After a few failed leads, Cook said a passenger in a vehicle alerted deputies to "a man walking down the road" just before 12 p.m. That man was recognized to be Stark, due to his previous encounters with local law enforcement. He was arrested in the 200 block of Cool Water Drive, about three-quarters of a mile from where the shooting occurred.
The Bastrop County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) said Stark has been arrested by the agency 25 times in the past. The BCSO released photos of the suspect from a previous arrest.
The BCSO said it received a call to a residence Sunday night about a criminal mischief issue. Deputy Wilson responded to the scene. While he was there, he received a description of the vehicle involved – a blue pickup with a mattress in the back.
Just after 10:30 p.m., Wilson pulled behind a pickup matching the description at the Lba Market on Lba Drive, off State Highway 95. According to BCSO, the driver, Stark, was wanted on a parole violation for a burglary in Bastrop County.
Wilson called for backup. The BCSO said Stark would not get out of the vehicle and fired a weapon at least three times from the driver's seat, striking Wilson three times. Wilson returned fire, but the BCSO said it is unclear at this time if Stark is injured.
After firing at Wilson, Stark then exited the pickup on the passenger side and ran out behind the store. Wilson pursued Stark into the darkness but lost him.
Wilson returned to the scene to receive medical attention and was taken to an Austin-area hospital by ambulance.
After the shooting, the area near the store had been checked closely using drones, and the Texas Department of Public Safety and an Austin Police Department helicopter assisted with the search. The Texas Rangers investigated the shooting, as well. This is protocol when deputies are involved in shootings.
In an update on Monday afternoon, the BCSO said it found four outstanding charges against Stark where he had made bond. Those bonds were revoked by a district judge, and Stark is now in jail on those charges with a $2 million bond as well as a parole violation.
Those charges include possession of cocaine, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, prohibited weapon charges and evading arrest.
Stark has not yet been charged with capital murder, but those charges are being evaluated as the investigation continues.
KVUE spoke with Sheriff Cook hours after the shooting. Watch here:
Gov. Greg Abbott released the following statement Monday morning:
"Our hearts are with Deputy Sawyer Wilson as he recovers from injuries sustained while protecting his fellow Texans in Bastrop County. Selfless heroes like Deputy Wilson put their lives at risk every day to serve their communities, and the State of Texas is ready to provide all resources necessary to bring the perpetrator to justice. I ask that all Texans join the First Lady and me in lifting up Deputy Wilson and his family in prayer as he begins his journey to recovery."
Who is Deputy Sawyer Wilson?
Wilson has been a deputy with the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office for about two years and seven months. That's about as long as he's been a law enforcement officer, the sheriff told KVUE.
"He's a good deputy. He loves his work, obviously," the sheriff said.
The sheriff said he's been communicating with the deputy's family, who are at the hospital. When Wilson arrived, he tested positive for COVID-19, so his law enforcement colleagues have not been able to visit him. At any rate, his spirits are up, the sheriff said.
He said Wilson underwent surgery on Monday afternoon to have his arm repaired. Doctors are hopeful that the deputy did not suffer nerve damage from the incident. Wilson is expected to be in the hospital for four to five days to recover.
"He, in fact, asked for his handheld radio while he was there, and they gave it to him for a while until he got on the radio and was trying to tell some of the units what the description of the suspect was," the sheriff said. "One of them was asking said, 'What was the description of, what was he wearing?' He just answered on the radio from the emergency room. So that's the kind of dedication he is, though, you know, he's still worried about his fellow officers out here. He's worried about other things instead of taking care of himself. Of course, they took that rodeo away from him pretty quickly after that."
Wilson's sister has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family out with expenses.
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