Deputies describe SWAT operation, praise 15-year-old shooting survivor

HOUSTON (KHOU) -- Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constables and members of a Harris County Sheriff's Office tactical response team praise their teamwork for the safe capture of mass murder suspect Ron Haskell. But most of their praise is reserved for 15-year-old Cassidy Stay, the lone survivor, who told them where the gunman was headed next.

"First of all and foremost the 15 year old girl is a hero, by all means," said Harris County Precinct 4 Assistant Chief Mark Herman.

Herman arrived at the shooting scene, where the girl's parents and siblings had been gunned down, just as the 15-year-old girl was being wheeled to an ambulance. He listened as the girl told a deputy that the shooter was her uncle Ron Haskell, that he had demanded to know where his ex-wife, the girl's aunt, was hiding and that he had shouted he was headed to the girl's grandparents' house next to kill them too. Cassidy did not know her grandparents' exact address but was able to tell the deputy that they lived on Anvil Drive.

Herman used his cell phone to alert the deputies that he knew would be closest to that area. He said he feared that going through official dispatch channels might take too long. He said his decision was right. Deputies were stationed on Anvil Drive three minutes before Haskell arrived looking for the grandparents' home. Herman confirmed to KHOU 11 News that the ex-wife Haskell was looking for was at that home on Anvil Drive.

"Had she (Cassidy) not verbally articulated to us who he is and where he's going, he would have committed more murders," said Herman. "No doubt in my mind."

After the 20 minute car chase a Harris County tactical response team took over.

"These guys are top notch," said Harris County Sheriff's Captain Darryl Coleman.

Colman and Sgt. Lonnie Tullos were in charge of the team that used the armored vehicle that affectionately refer to as "The Bear" to crush the front end of Haskell's car. A second vehicle, a recently acquired military MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle completed the blockade by blocking the back of Haskell's car.

"So we sort of had him trapped where we had him, to where we could force him to talk to us and negotiate with us," said Tullos.

The tactical team used a bomb robot to deliver water to Haskell and to deliver him a telephone during the 3-hour negotiations when his cell phone battery ran out. Haskell, who at times held a gun to his head, eventually surrendered.

"Our main function is the preservation of life, and that's all life," said Coleman when asked why his team patiently waited out the suspect until he surrendered. "To try to get this remedy done in as peaceable a fashion as we can, I think we accomplished the mission the best way we could." Homes in the neighborhood had also been evacuated just in case of an exchange of gunfire.

"The guys are highly trained and dedicated and very patient," added Tullos. "And using all the tactics we had learned, it just went in our favor because we took our time."

As previously reported by KHOU 11 News, Cassidy Stay was released from Children's Memorial Hermann Friday afternoon in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

Statement from Children's Memorial Hermann:

"As a hospital team, we were honored to be able to help care for this brave young woman at her critical time of need. The entire staff at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital has been profoundly touched by Cassidy's resilient spirit, inner strength, and hopeful heart during this time of indescribable shock and grief."

Click here to read the full statement.



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