Police in North Texas defended their actions Sunday, hours after a woman and her boyfriend were found shot to death by her ex-husband who then killed himself.
Grand Prairie police said Jenea James had called once Saturday morning, and again that night, to say that her ex-husband, Dashun Atkins, was calling to harass her, according to a police statement.
After the first call, she declined to press charges but was given information on how to get a restraining order. After the second call, a police officer called the ex-husband and told him to stop calling James.
Residents reported hearing gunshots after 2 a.m. Sunday, around three hours after James called police a second time. Officers found James, 37, lying in the front yard, and 41-year-old James Doyle lying nearby, the statement said.
James' two children, ages three and five, were in the house at the time of the killings, but were not physically injured. It's unclear if they witnessed the murders. Police are working to relocate them with other members.
Police found Atkins, 39, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home hours later, the statement said.
"At no time leading up to the shooting did officers have legal authority to arrest Dashun [Atkins]," police said in the statement.
Besides the calls from James, police said they also received a call shortly before midnight Saturday from someone claiming to be a relative of Atkins. That relative told police that Atkins "indicated he got into an argument with his ex-wife, and was saying goodbye," the statement said.
Officers then went to Atkins' apartment and spoke to him, but he "made no indication that he intended to harm himself, or anyone else."
Neighbors in a South Grand Prairie cul-de-sac heard guns shots at about 2 a.m. Sunday. When police arrived, they found James and Doyle shot to death. It happened on Hill Top Lane at Ridge Point Drive.
“My daughter and I were up watching TV and all of a sudden I heard three shots," said neighbor Karen Sims. "There were six to eight cop cars shining through my bedroom window.”
“We went outside and the whole entire cul-de-sac was roped off, we could see one body in the neighbors front yard," Sims said.
Neighbors had a clue the homeowner had relationship problems.
"She [James] bought the house and lived there by herself and then had a boyfriend move in and he had been there several years and they had two kids and recently he had left,” said Beth Wells who lives three houses down.
"I think it was a family having a lot of troubles and I wish people would understand murder is not the answer to it,” said Sims. “They just cause many more problems for their children that will haunt them the rest of their lives."
Police spent hours gathering evidence inside the woman’s home, interviewing neighbors and trying to find bullet casings in the yard next door where they found the woman’s body.
"It's really sad that she had two little children,” said Wells. “It's really sad that these kinds of things happen. It doesn't matter where you live or what economic situation you're in, it can happen."
NBC 5's Reginald Hardwick and Mark Schnyder contributed to this report.
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