The investigation of an overnight shooting involving Dallas Police indicates the suspect’s death was suicide and not the result of officers’ gunfire, as originally reported.
In addition, it turns out the incorrect belief that the suspect’s vehicle was stolen sparked a confrontation that turned dangerous for the officers and deadly for the suspect.
Police said officers Michelle Herczeg and J. Jankowski were patrolling the parking lot of the Grand Hotel in the 7900 block of LBJ Freeway near Coit Road just before midnight.
"It was a location in which individuals were dumping stolen vehicles," said Maj. Jeff Cotner, with the Dallas Police Department.
In the parking lot, the officers spotted a truck they believed to have been stolen, and Cotner said as they approached, a man inside pulled out a gun.
Cotner said both officers opened fire as they backed away, and the man inside was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shooting was captured on police squad car video and hotel surveillance video.
Cotner said a review of the video later confirmed that after the officers fired their shots, the driver extended his arm outside the truck window and then a flash was seen inside the cab. The fatal injury was a gunshot wound to the head, Cotner said.
“The Dallas County medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy today. The preliminary ruling for cause of death is suicide,” Cotner said.
The medical examiner identified the suspect as Terrance Groessel.
Texas Department of Public Safety records show the man has used several names and dates of birth over the years, but his primary birth date puts his age at 53.
Groessel had a long criminal history, including burglary, drugs and a sex crime that required he register his current address.
His latest address of record is a Garland home where owner Steve Newberry said Groessel had moved out several months ago.
“It’s shocking. I can’t believe it,” Newberry said when told of Groessel’s death. “I don‘t believe he had a gun because he never had a gun while he was here.”
Newberry said the truck Groessel drove was not stolen, but Newberry said he knew Groessel had failed to tell his probation officer that he’d moved.
Cotner said investigators learned Groessel had been living at the Grand Hotel for the past several weeks and that Groessel told another acquaintance recently that he did have a gun.
“The friend told detectives he recently warned Groessel to get rid of his gun to which he replied he was not going back to prison,” Cotner said.
Dallas police have fired guns at suspects 13 times so far in 2014, missing the suspect three times. In two of the cases, the suspects survived their gunshot wounds. Groessel’s death is the eighth fatal police-involved shooting of 2014. The other seven were not ruled suicides.
In 2013, Dallas police shot at suspects 22 times, missing the suspect in 10 cases and killing suspects six times.
Officer Herczeg is a five-year Dallas police veteran. Officer Jankowski has served four years and 11 months. Both were placed on routine administrative leave pending completion of the investigation into Thursday's shooting.
Several other Dallas police shooting cases also remain under investigation.