A former Tacoma man shot an Arlington, Texas, police officer to death Tuesday as she tried to protect an 11-year-old girl whose mother was involved in a domestic dispute, police said Wednesday.
Jillian Smith, 24, had been dispatched to take a domestic violence report at an apartment complex in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas.
When she arrived, she encountered Kimberly Deshay Carter, 29, and her daughter. Minutes later, Barnes Samuel Nettles, 38, arrived at the apartment with a gun.
As Nettles began shooting, Smith moved toward the girl to cover her and was fatally shot, Arlington police said. Nettles then approached a bedroom and fatally shot Carter, also formerly of Tacoma.
He then went into the living room and fatally shot himself.
The girl escaped.
Smith, an Arlington native, became interested in law enforcement in the sixth grade when she participated in her school’s DARE program, where police officers work with students to teach them ways to resist peer pressure and avoid drugs and violence.
Police Chief Theron Bowman called her death a “great loss” and “great tragedy.”
Police arrested Nettles, who had a criminal record in Pierce County including for child rape, in September after he allegedly assaulted Carter’s mother and sister at the apartment after an argument.
No one was at Nettles’ Arlington home Wednesday. At the duplex next door, James and Jennifer Love said they were stunned to learn of the shooting.
Just a week ago, the Loves said, Carter came over with a friend and Nettles happily washed and detailed their cars.
The Loves said they had come to know Nettles in the four or five months since he moved into the neighborhood as a “caring” and “sweet” man.
They said Nettles, who lived in Tacoma for nearly 20 years before moving south this summer, was enthusiastic about his job as a construction worker and that he doted on his sons, who recently moved back to Washington state.
The couple said Nettles watched out for Jennifer Love when her husband was out of town and that he gave the Loves’ children new clothes and shoes.
“The man we’re seeing on TV is not the man we knew,” Jennifer Love said.
Nettles’ ex-wife, Pamela Nettles of Lakewood, told The News Tribune on Wednesday her ex-husband was not evil.
“I just want everyone to know he wasn’t a bad person,” she said. “He was a loving man, a good husband and father.”
Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.