Weatherford Democrat

October 15, 2013

Three deputies on paid leave following armed fugitive's death

Weatherford Democrat

— From Staff Reports

SPRINGTOWN – A Garland man is dead and three Parker County sheriff’s deputies have been placed on routine administrative leave, the results of the deadly end to a manhunt and standoff Tuesday morning southeast of Springtown.

Winford Raynard Watkins, 44, died apparently from a gunshot wound to the chest fired by deputies inside a home on Cindy Lane where Watkins allegedly hid after running from a deputy Monday afternoon.

Watkins, with a lengthy criminal history, was a fugitive wanted in Collin County where he had been sentenced in absentia to 45 years in prison in a burglary case.

Watkins ran to the home of someone he knew, though the resident was not home at the time, according to reports. Watkins reportedly hid in the attic of the home overnight until about 5 a.m. Tuesday, when he came down.

Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said deputies were in the hallway and, as Watkins tried to fire his gun at them, they acted first, firing at Watkins.

“He came down without saying a word, just slithered out of that crawl space, and pointed his gun at us,” Fowler told KXAS-TV. “He was trying to get a shot off. He didn’t. We did.”

Watkins then went into a bathroom and a couple of more hours past before authorities were able to determine he was dead.

The ordeal began when Watkins’ vehicle, occupied by himself and his wife, Dawn Charlene Watkins, 46, of Weatherford, was stopped by a deputy before 2 p.m. Monday on Midway Road after a check on a license plate showed an issue with the vehicle registration. Watkins began acting erratically, according to Fowler, who said Watkins began screaming, “I’m not going back, I’m not going back.”

Watkins got out of the vehicle with a bunch of papers and pulled out what appeared to be a gun, according to Fowler, who said the deputy backed up and ordered the man to put the weapon down.  Fowler said Watkins then began waving the weapon around.

Watkins then reportedly grabbed a lug wrench out of the vehicle and began beating on the window of the deputy's patrol vehicle, unsuccessfully attempting to break the glass. There was a loaded AR-15 on the seat of the patrol vehicle, the sheriff said. The deputy reportedly fired his weapon at Watkins but apparently missed, officials said.

Watkins then led deputies on a short pursuit to the end of Cindy Lane, where deputies reportedly saw him run from the vehicle into a grove of trees. A bloodhound was used to track Watkins' scent as officers, including a special weapons and tactics teams and a helicopter descended on the area.

Once officers realized Watkins was in the home, gas was released inside the house around 7 p.m. Monday, according to Fowler. However, the gas failed to force Watkins out.

Dawn Charlene Watkins, who also goes by Dawn Charlene Pratt, was arrested on outstanding warrants issued by Carrollton police for possession of drug paraphernalia and theft under $50. She was released early Tuesday afternoon from the Parker County Jail after paying fines totaling $840.

The Texas Rangers are conducting an investigation into deputies' use of deadly force. Winford Watkins' body was reportedly transferred to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office.