Victoria man wounds three family members, kills self

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

July 22, 2010 at 2:22 a.m.

A Victoria man shot and wounded three family members late Wednesday night before killing himself at their home on Sunset Drive.

Billy D. Mathis, 56, shot his wife, Wanda Mathis, 59; stepson, Jim Ray Kitchens, 38; and his granddaughter, Analisa Kitchens, 17; with a 9 millimeter handgun, Chief Deputy Terry Simons said Thursday afternoon.

When deputies arrived, Billy Mathis was on the porch of his home at 499 Sunset Drive.

As soon as a deputy tried to speak to the man through the patrol car's speaker system, he shot himself in the head, Simons said.

"It was a pretty classic domestic violence shooting," Simons said.

The family had been arguing for several days, but the reason for the quarrel or what pushed Mathis to shoot his family is still under investigation, Simons said.

His wife and granddaughter were transported to Citizens Medical Center. Both were listed in stable condition, a hospital spokesman said.

Jim Ray Kitchens was airlifted to Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, Simons said.

His condition was not released by the hospital.

Despite Wanda Mathis' condition, she made the 9-1-1 call and was able to say and describe what was going on, Simons said.

The wife was shot in the torso, the stepson was shot three times in the chest and the granddaughter received a single gunshot to the neck, Simons said.

This was not the first criminal act for Mathis, who was in jail on three occasions in the 1990s for assault causing bodily injury and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Mathis and his wife went to district court in 1996 for one of the assaults and she testified that she no longer wished to pursue criminal charges. The case was dropped, according to a legal document.

"That's one of the things that saddens and frightens us," Simons said, referring to Mathis' criminal record.

Deputies described the scene as "fairly chaotic," Simons said.

There were four patrol units on the scene when Mathis shot himself and an additional 13 deputies for the investigation, which lasted until 3 a.m., Simons said.

Ramon Garcia, a nearby resident, did not hear sirens or know about the shooting.

"It's peaceful down here," said Garcia, who was mowing his lawn when he learned the news. "The cars that go down here, we know."

Garcia has lived in the area for about 30 years and didn't know the Mathis family, he said.

Access to the house seemed private.

One "No Trespassing" sign hung at the entrance of the driveway and another on a hurricane fence surrounding the house.

A black Doberman patrolled the front yard.

"That tells you something. Obviously they are private or they've got something to hide," Garcia said.

Because the three victims are alive and the shooter is dead, the investigation should not take very long, Simons said.

The deputies who witnessed the suicide have been talked to about what they saw, Simons added.

Some more seasoned deputies are desensitized to stressful incidences, but others may not know how to handle the situation, he said.

"Everybody has different levels of how they deal with that type of trauma and stress," he said. "We will never understand what makes someone go off like that."



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