The family of Larry Don Wheeler, cousin of Texas Governor Rick Perry, is waiting to hear from the authorities as to why their loved one died in a “burst of gunfire” after sheriff’s deputies arrived at his home Saturday night.
Wheeler’s death “is not making any sense,” family lawyer David Gossom told the TimesRecordNews in Wichita Falls, Texas, adding that the family “is in shock” from the incident.
According to that news report, deputies from the Montague County Sheriff’s Office showed up at Wheeler’s home in Nocona, northwest of Dallas, after reports of a gunshot being heard in the vicinity.
Soon afterward, Wheeler died in what the Associated Press describes as an “exchange of gunfire.”
The AP report cites Montague County District Attorney Jack McGaughey as saying that “Wheeler was holding a shotgun and an officer was shot in the hand.”
The TRN reports that the family is “waiting to see if there is a reasonable explanation for what happened.” The Texas Rangers and the local district attorney’s office are investigating, and an autopsy is pending. Wheeler evidently had no history of conflict with the local police.
According to his obituary, Wheeler “passionately worked many years to support his cousin, Governor Rick Perry.”
A 2005 press release from Gov. Perry lists Wheeler as the Nocona steering committee head for Perry’s 2006 re-election campaign.
Perry is widely known as a “tough-on-crime” politician who fiercely supports the death penalty and aggressive policing.
The TRN describes Wheeler as a quiet individual who loved “golf, traveling and writing,” and whose violent death “is a sharp contrast to the life he lived.”