A former sheriff’s deputy in Texas was being sought after the authorities said he fatally shot three people in Austin on Sunday.
Joseph Chacon, the interim chief of the Austin Police Department, said the authorities responded to a call about a possible shooting or stabbing in northwest Austin shortly before noon local time on Sunday.
When officers arrived at the scene, near an upscale shopping center called the Arboretum, they found three people — two women and one man — with gunshot wounds, Chief Chacon said. The victims, all of whom were pronounced dead at the scene, were not immediately identified.
Mayor Steve Adler of Austin said on Twitter that the shooting happened at an apartment complex called Arboretum Oaks.
The authorities identified the gunman as Stephen Nicholas Broderick, 41. Chief Chacon said on Sunday afternoon that it was his “understanding” that Mr. Broderick “at one time” worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Travis County, which includes Austin. He did not elaborate. A man with Mr. Broderick’s name and date of birth had been employed at the sheriff’s office in Travis County until June of last year, when he was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child, according to Kristen Dark, a spokeswoman for the office. The employee, who worked as a detective on property crimes, resigned after his arrest, she said.
Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said in a statement “I’m shocked and saddened by this horrific news” and that her office is ready to assist in the investigation and help the victim’s families.
Citing court records, The Austin-American Statesman reported that Mr. Broderick’s wife filed for a protective order and for divorce shortly after his arrest.
“If you see him, he is considered armed and dangerous at this point,” Chief Chacon said on Sunday. “We still do not have this scene completely under control. Obviously, this is a tragedy. We have people who have lost their lives out here.”
Chief Chacon said that investigators believed that the gunman knew the people who were shot.
“Our preliminary investigation indicates that he did know the victims and that it was certainly targeted to them,” Chief Chacon said. “However, I would say that the danger still remains high at this point, and we want to make sure that people understand that part.”
A shelter-in-place order that was issued for residents and businesses in the area of the shooting was lifted on Sunday afternoon, but Chief Chacon said people in the area should be vigilant and look out for the gunman, who he said was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses and a baseball cap.
“We are going to continue to look for this individual because he continues to pose a threat to this community,” Chief Chacon said. Earlier, the chief had said the gunman “might possibly take a hostage and be himself sheltered somewhere waiting for us to leave.”
Andy Brown, who, as the Travis County judge is the county’s chief executive, called on state lawmakers in Texas to work to prevent shootings like the one in Austin on Sunday.
“This is a tragedy we endure too often,” Mr. Brown said in an interview. “Our legislators have to come together to find common ground to prevent mass shootings like this.”
“My heart is broken today,” he added. “We need to do better.”