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East Texas man sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to shooting, injuring deputy

During the investigation, Craig Harwart admitted to committing the crimes because he "was mad."

UPSHUR COUNTY, Texas — An East Texas man will spend the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty to shooting and injuring an Upshur County deputy.

Around 1:40 a.m., on Nov. 16, 2020, the Gilmer Police Department and the Upshur County Sheriff's Office responded to the CEFCO gas station at the intersection of U.S. Highway 271 and State Hwy 300 in Gilmer. 

There, officers learned a person, identified as Craig Harwart, 56, of Gilmer, had fired multiple rounds inside and outside of the store, with several rounds being shot in the direction of people. 

The Upshur County District Attorney's Office says Harwart walked into the gas station and demanded the clerk turn on the gas pumps. He then pulled out a 9mm handgun and pointed it in the female clerk's face saying he would shoot her if she didn't turn on the pumps. He threw a $20 bill down on the counter and proceeded to shoot 16 rounds into the ceiling. He then walked outside and began shooting at a customer who was inside their vehicle at the gas pumps. The vehicle was hit, but no injuries were reported.

Officers located the suspect vehicle traveling south on Highway 300 (Gilmer Rd.) toward Longview and a car chase with law enforcement began. The chase extended into southern Upshur County and northern Gregg County. The UCSO says Harwart shot at officers during the chase. 

Harwart was able to get away from officials, but soon after, while checking a possible address for the suspect car on Snyder Rd. in southern Upshur County, an Upshur County deputy's vehicle was shot from the area of the residence.

While working on a plan to capture Harwart, officials say the he drove up to law enforcement around 5 a.m. and began shooting. Officials then returned fire.

An Upshur County deputy was hit by a bullet, but was treated and released from a local hospital. Harwart was also shot and was treated at a Longview medical center before being taken to jail.

During the investigation, Harwart admitted to committing the above crimes because he "was mad."