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Friday, April 25, 1997

Triple homicide catches officers in East Texas town by surprise

CENTER, Texas (AP) - In a small East Texas town where major crime hasn't been a problem, authorities are investigating a triple homicide that they've described as "a professional hit."

Two men and a 13-year-old girl were shot and killed, execution-style, late Tuesday night in Center, a town of about 5,000 people. Center is about 30 miles northeast of Nacogdoches.

Harmie Smith, a veteran of many years in law enforcement, says he's never investigated a mass homicide before. He's an investigator for the Shelby County district attorney's office.

"We have people here in the town that still sleep with their windows open and doors unlocked. You just never expected something like this to happen here," Smith told the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Officials say two men, apparently known to those inside, entered a house and fired at least 14 rounds from an assault weapon.

Dead at the scene were Percy Keith Moore, 25; his wife's sister, Christy Deanne Calhoun, 13; and Brian Keith Brooks, 26, of Tyler. Moore's wife was at work but came home just before police arrived to find her husband and sister lying in pools of blood, authorities said.

One of the men was found outside the back door with wounds to his arm, back and head. The other man was shot in the back and head. The girl apparently was sleeping on a couch when she was shot in the head.

Smith compared the shooting to "a professional hit." He added, "They didn't want to leave any witnesses."

Police said Vivian Watts, 42, and her daughter, Colandra, 15, were shot when they peered out the front door of a neighboring trailer home. Ms. Watts was shot in the hip and her daughter in the knee.

Ms. Watts told police that two people drove away in a two-tone, brown extended cab pickup truck. Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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