Law enforcement surrounded a Harris County, Texas neighborhood on Monday following a phone call about an active shooter in the area, which turned out to only be a U.S. soldier target practicing in his back yard with an air rifle, KHOU reported.
The neighborhood where Ramon Hooks lives contains several unfinished and vacant houses, and Hooks would often set up targets in the area behind his home and between the empty houses.
An off-duty Homeland Security agent was in the neighborhood Monday looking at houses as a potential buyer when he claims glass shattered near him while walking through one of the homes. The agent said he then saw Hooks standing outside with what appeared to be a high-powered rifle, prompting him to call the sheriff’s department and initiate an “active shooter” scene.
Authorities responded to the call with massive force, which included SWAT in full riot gear, while two nearby schools went on lockdown and rumors started to abound.
“What the people are saying is it’s someone with an AK 47… in the bushes hiding, randomly just sniping people,” said area resident Teresa Moran.
As officers closed in on Hooks’ home, they spotted the rifle on the porch, and upon further inspection discovered that it was only a pellet gun.
Captain Jay Coons of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office explained that even though it was just an air rifle, they can look very similar to the real thing. But Hooks said that everyone in the neighborhood knows he target practices with the pellet gun and it’s never been a problem before. In fact, some of the neighborhood kids do the same.
Nonetheless, Hooks, who is an Iraqi war veteran, was taken into custody and charged with criminal mischief. He was later released, but is now “in the dog house for a long, long time,” according to his wife, Dionne.
However, Hooks and his wife both agree that things might not have happened exactly the way the Homeland Security agent says and they feel that authorities overreacted.
“It’s kind of crazy how things were twisted, and I ended up being the person in the back seat,” Hooks said.
According to his account of the incident, Hooks was target practicing in his back yard, like he does every day, when his dog got out of the fence. He then laid the air rifle down on the porch and went to look for his dog.
Hooks said he even ran into the agent and asked him if he had seen his dog, to which he responded, “Yes, she ran around the back way,” Hooks told reporters, but authorities said there’s no evidence that the two ever even spoke to each other.
Hooks eventually went back to his target practicing, but said he wasn’t even firing in the direction of the house where the agent was. And although the agent pointed to a target near the home, Hooks claims that was an old target, not the one he was using that day.
“If I felt it ricocheted over here I would’ve said so,” he added.
And as far as the holes in the window, Hooks’ wife told reporters that while it is entirely possible that the holes were made by her husband’s pellet gun during previous target practicing sessions, most of the holes were likely made when some of the neighborhood kids threw rocks at the windows, which apparently happens quite often.
In addition, Dionne stated that they’ve had all sorts of problems with squatters and others wandering into the vacant homes, which typically causes a lot of damage.
Nonetheless, Hooks appears to be more concerned about the trouble with his wife than the trouble with the law.