Feds Investigate Possible Cartel Connections in Southlake Shooting

Federal agents investigate possible drug cartel connection

NBC 5 has learned federal agents are investigating possible drug cartel connections to a Wednesday shooting at Southlake Town Center.

Officials say a masked gunman shot and killed a 43-year-old Southlake man in the parking lot of the affluent city's town center in what appeared to be a targeted attack.

Chief Stephen Mylett of the Southlake Department of Public Safety said his investigators are consulting with DEA, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security agencies on the attack. Other police departments in the area, including the Grapevine, Keller, and Colleyville departments are also consulting with Southlake officers on the case.

"I don’t want to speculate on the motivation of the suspects but everything we’re receiving is this is not a random shooting," Mylett told NBC 5 on Wednesday. "This was a targeted incident."

Police say the 43-year-old man had been sitting in the passenger seat of a Range Rover with his wife near Banana Republic, when a white SUV pulled up next to them.

Witnesses say a masked shooter got out and fired at least five rounds with a gun that possibly had a silencer on it. The male victim was hit multiple times by the gunfire and later died at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine.

The shooter escaped with a getaway driver and was last seen driving West on Southlake Boulevard, police said. Investigators only have a general description of the suspects.

Police said witnesses were not able to get the suspects' license plate.

"Surprised" Witnesses at Murder Scene

It was the first murder in the affluent suburb in 15 years.

"I’m very surprised, very shocked," said Rachel Fowle, who was shopping at the town square. "It's very unsettling it would happen in the middle of the day in such a populated area."

“We heard the gunshots,” says shopper Anum Abid.

“She heard pops like firecrackers and just heard screams,” says Kelly Simpson.  Simpson had been meeting her friend Wednesday night and heard gunshots ring out at the Southlake Town Square.

Abid’s and Simpson’s cars both got roped off in the crime scene tape after the shooting.  They returned to pick up their cars Thursday morning and are still shocked by what happened. 

So is Jeremy Tyson, who saw the victim’s SUV. 

“The passenger side was shot.  The window was busted in,” Tyson says.

Police Chief Stephen Mylett says investigators are getting information from nearby video cameras that lead him to believe this is an orchestrated killing, and the man who was murdered was the intended target.  That doesn’t put Anum Abid at ease at all.

“Had ski masks on, no one saw them, kind of pre-planned, that makes it even scarier,” says Abid.

The man’s wife wasn’t hurt.  The chief says she is traumatized, but is giving investigators the information she knows.

NBC 5 has uncovered the Range Rover they’d been sitting in during the shooting is registered to a man with a Post Office Box in Plano.

“They’re not good people who would do something like that.  I’m glad no one else was hurt,” says Abid.

Chief Assures Public of Safety

Southlake Police Chief Stephen Mylett took to Facebook to help assure the citizens of his community that they are safe.

In a statement posted to the Southlake Public Safety page, Mylett reiterated that the incident was not a "random act of violence."

"While I cannot go into the specifics of the evidence we have in our possession, I do feel I have the responsibility as your Chief of Police to inform you that this was a well-orchestrated, deliberate attack on a specific individual. I am confident the suspects involved in this attack immediately left our area and no longer pose a threat to Southlake residents," the statement continued. Read the full statement by clicking here.

Mylett and other authorities believe additional witnesses to the incident may not have yet contacted police. Investigators are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact Det. Karl Moore at 817-748-8127 or call Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817-469-8477.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this story.

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