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Texas police officer charged with murder in wife's shooting

December 13, 2011 | 12:58 pm

Morin

Armed with police-issued rifles and handguns and dressed in his uniform pants and a jacket, the police officer from Alice, Texas, apparently skipped his regular shift Monday. Instead, he went to confront his estranged wife, authorities said.

Finding her hiding in the closet of a Corpus Christi house with her mother, the officer -- Jose Gonzales III -- shot her multiple times, authorities said.

Gonzales has been charged with murder in connection with Monday's fatal shooting of the woman, Leslie Morin, 31, his common-law wife, according to the Corpus-Christi Caller Times.

Ric Ortiz, chief investigator with the Nueces County medical examiner's office, confirmed to The Times that Morin had died after being shot several times. But he said Tuesday that an autopsy had yet to be conducted.

Alice Police Chief Daniel Bueno told the Caller-Times that Gonzales had been upset about the recent separation from Morin.

He found her, the Caller-Times reported, at Morin's parents' Corpus Christi area home; there, he broke open the door of the closet where she and her mother were hiding, grabbed Morin and shot her, Ortiz told the Caller-Times. Morin's mother was not injured, the paper reported.

Witnesses told the Caller-Times that Gonzales left the home with the couple's 8-year-old son, and authorities feared that Gonzales might hurt the boy or himself. But Bueno told the Caller-Times that Gonzales never threatened to injure his son.

Authorities in two counties searched for Gonzales for about an hour before finding his pickup parked at his home in Alice.

Alice Police Lt. Alberto Martinez, a 22-year veteran of the department, spoke with Gonzales by phone, praying with him, persuading him to release his son and to give up without incident, Bueno told the Caller-Times.

Gonzales, 44, eventually surrendered to police and was being held in the Nueces County Jail, officials told The Times. Bail was set at $250,000.

Bueno said he didn't know Morin personally, but had met her when she attended department Christmas parties with Gonzales.

"I like to say we're family," Bueno told the Caller-Times. "It does put a sad chapter in our lives. I've been here 34 years. This is my second home. To see something like this is very difficult, but we want to go on, and we must continue to provide our community with the best service we can."

A staff meeting was planned Tuesday, with counselors and a priest expected to meet with employees.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston

Photo: Friends and family of Leslie Morin gather outside her home in Corpus Christi, Texas, after the reports of Morin's shooting spread Monday. Morin's common-law husband, Alice police officer Jose Gonzalez III, has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shooting. Credit: Todd Yates/Corpus Christi Caller-Times

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