Law enforcement officials in Harris County, Texas strongly condemned the “very dangerous national rhetoric” they believe may have contributed to the ambush and execution of sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth at a gas station Friday night.
“It is time for the silent majority in this country to support law enforcement,” Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.
At around 8:30 p.m. a gunman approached the 47-year-old Goforth from behind as he was pumping gas. The suspect shot the 10-year veteran, who was in full uniform and on duty at the time, in the back of the head and proceeded to shoot him while he was on the ground. (RELATED: Uniformed Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Ambushed, Killed While Pumping Gas)
“What happened last night is an assault on the very fabric of our society,” Anderson said, calling the murder an act of “open warfare on law enforcement.”
“It is not anything that we can tolerate,” she added. “It is time to come forward and support law enforcement, and condemn this atrocious act.”
While authorities say they have no indication about the motive of the shooting, they clearly believe that the killer targeted Goforth because he is a police officer.
The incident occurred just north of downtown Houston, which is about 30 miles from Prairie View. That’s the city where Sandra Bland was arrested on July 10 following a traffic stop. Bland died in a county jail three days later. While her death was ruled a suicide, the case gained the attention of the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests cases of police brutality and police-involved deaths.
Harris County sheriff Ron Hickman indirectly condemned the activist group during Saturday’s press conference, citing “some of the very dangerous national rhetoric that’s out there today.”
“Our system of justice absolutely requires law enforcement to be present to protect our community,” Hickman said.
“So any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point that calculated, cold-blooded, assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control,” he added.
“We’ve heard ‘black lives matter,’ ‘all lives matter’ — well, cops’ lives matter too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and say ‘lives matter,’ and take that to the bank.”
Hickman called for help from the community and from customers at the convenience store who may have witnessed the shooting. Though police have questioned a man who owns a red truck like the one spotted at the scene, Hickman said that they have not taken anyone into custody.