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Posted: December 06, 2017

Man suspected of killing officer, lived in 'house of horrors,' neighbors say


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Man suspected of killing officer, lived in 'house of horrors,' neighbors say
The house at 177 Valero Drive in San Marcos on Tuesday December 5, 2017, where the day before a San Marcos police officer was killed. (Photo: Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman)

By Jay JannNolan Hicks and Mark D. Wilson, Austin American-Statesman

6: 25 p.m. update: San Marcos police have officially identified the man believed to have shot and killed officer Kenneth Copeland on Monday. 

Police have issued an arrest warrant for 51-year-old Stewart Thomas Mettz, though they have not yet filed charges against Mettz in connection with Copeland’s death. 

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Copeland and other San Marcos police officers were serving a warrant for a family violence assault charge against Mettz at his home in the El Camino Real subdivision when the shooting happened, officials have said. 

Police believe Mettz is the person who shot Copeland. Copeland died shortly after from his injuries. 

Mettz surrendered to authorities and was taken to an Austin hospital with gunshot wounds. It’s unclear whether the wounds were self-inflicted or from police officers’ weapons, authorities have said. 

2:50 p.m. update: Court documents filed in Hays County on Monday identify 51-year-old Stewart Thomas Mettz as the man San Marcos police were trying to arrest when an officer was shot and killed.

The arrest warrant affidavits said Mettz faced a family violence assault charge after his wife and mother-in-law came forward on Nov. 26 to report that he’d assaulted both of them.

Mettz is also identified by public records as the owner of the property where Officer Kenneth Copeland, 58, was shot and killed Monday while serving the warrants.

Authorities have not yet confirmed the identity of the man who fatally shot Copeland.

The affidavits said Mettz and his wife have been married for the past seven years, and the mother-in-law lived with them for roughly a year and a half.

The mother-in-law told police Mettz became angry on Nov. 25 because she was in his room. She said he grabbed her by the shirt and neck and pulled her out the room, the affidavit said.

According to the report, the women told investigators he said, “You had better not file charges or you know what will happen.”

Mettz’s wife also reported being assaulted on Aug. 30 and said several other physical altercations had happened in which Mettz was the aggressor.

“(The women) advised that they have never reported and previous incidents because they are scared of Stewart,” the affidavit said.

Earlier: On the outside, the house where slain San Marcos police officer Kenneth Copeland arrived to serve a warrant on Monday afternoon seemed like the perfect property – it even won “yard of the month” several times, according to a neighbor who spoke to the American-Statesman but declined to give her name.

“On the inside, it was a house of horrors,” she said. “It was a bomb waiting to happen.”
Authorities said Copeland, a 19-year police department veteran, was shot to death while serving a warrant in the El Camino Real subdivision. Police have yet to name the shooting suspect, but the neighbor described him as a troubled veteran in his mid-30s who threatened his family.

“He had guns everywhere,” she said. “He was a really strange person.”

Meanwhile, authorities on Tuesday continued their investigation into the killing of Copeland, who officials said was the first San Marcos police officer to die in the line of duty.

Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau said on Tuesday that “the investigation is obviously in its very early stages.”
The shooting suspect was still at an Austin hospital, Mau said. Police on Monday said the man was being treated for gunshot wounds but they did not say whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from officers’ weapons.

“I obviously want to find out about as much as we can out about it before we make any decisions about how we go forward,” Mau said. He said the suspect won’t be arraigned until he is released from the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the San Marcos Police Department said more information will be released at a news conference later in the day Tuesday.
Daniel Arredondo, the past president of the San Marcos Police Officers Association, called Copeland “a shining star in our department.”

“He always brightened everybody’s day,” Arredondo said.

He described Copeland – who is survived by his wife, Sheila, and sons Nile, Noah, James and Jonah – as a devoted father of two sets of twins.

“All he ever did was talk about his kids,” Arredondo said. “Being a police officer was secondary to him being all about his kids.”
Copeland also left a deep impression on the PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, where he had worked security for the last few years.

“What was so neat was that even though he was here to do a job, he would connect personally with folks here,” said the non-denominational church’s senior pastor, Robin Steele. “Our congregation is taking it hard because they would see him every week, every few weeks, and they built a bond with him.”

“That’s why it’s tough,” he added.

Before joining San Marcos police in 1998, Copeland worked as a corrections officer in Texas at the state prison in Huntsville from 1982 to 1988, and in California with Santa Clara County from 1988 to 1990, and served as a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy from 1990 to 1995.


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