Ex-teacher charged in Dallas-area attacks; 4 dead
DESOTO, Texas (AP) — A former teacher and Dallas Mavericks hip-hop dancer was charged with capital murder Thursday after police said he attacked the homes of his estranged wife and his girlfriend, killing the women and two of their children and wounding four other people.
Erbie Lee Bowser, 44, was arrested late Wednesday following the second attack in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, during which police say he fatally shot his estranged wife Zina Bowser, 47, and her daughter Neima Williams, 28. He also shot and wounded two boys there, ages 11 and 13, who were in critical condition Thursday, DeSoto police Cpl. Melissa Franks said.
Bowser was charged Thursday with two counts of capital murder in that attack, which happened about 15 minutes after an attack in southwest Dallas, about 10 miles away. Dallas police said they were expecting to file two capital murder counts against Bowser in that attack.
Police called to the Dallas home at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday found four people who had been shot, including Bowser’s girlfriend Toya Smith, 43, and her daughter Tasmia Allen, 17, who were killed, Dallas police Maj. Jeff Cotner said. Smith’s 14-year-old son and a 17-year-old family friend were wounded, he said.
Smith’s mother, Lurlean Smith, walked in on the bloody scene after going to the home because she had received a disturbing phone call from her daughter. She said the lights were on but no one answered the door. Near a window, she heard what she thought was someone gasping for breath. Once inside, her granddaughter’s wounded friend fell into her arms.
“She fell in my arms and she was bleeding and I moved her back to the sofa and that’s when I saw my grandbaby there,” said Smith, who said her granddaughter had been shot in the head.
She said there apparently had been a struggle. “He tore that whole wall out, evidently he was throwing them. I don’t know what he was doing,” Smith said.
She said she had been warning her daughter for two years to stay away from Bowser, saying, “He’s controlling. He thinks he can control women, but he did, he controlled my daughter. And it caused my baby’s death.”
After that attack, Bowser went to the DeSoto home of his 47-year-old estranged wife Zina Bowser and fatally shot her and her daughter, 28-year-old Neima Williams, Franks said. He also shot and wounded two boys there, ages 11 and 13, who were in critical condition Thursday, she said.
Russ Morrison, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Bowser set off an explosive device in the DeSoto home, but Franks said it didn’t harm anyone.
Police took Bowser to a hospital to be examined, and Franks said detectives have found him difficult to interview.
“He does lapse into periods where he sits there quietly or wants to lay down or doesn’t want to speak,” she said.
In a statement, JPS Health Network in Fort Worth said Zina Bowser served as a nurse practitioner in their employee health clinic. “She touched the lives of many and she will be greatly missed,” the statement said.
Tommy Johnson, who lives in the DeSoto neighborhood, said he heard a loud boom coming from the direction of the home where the victims were later found.
“We thought it was coming from upstairs, because the kids are always upstairs making noise,” Johnson said. “I went up and asked, ‘Did you hear anything?’ and one of my daughters said it came from outside. So I peeped out the front and that’s when I saw a bunch of officers walking down the sidewalk and about 10 houses up.”
Carolyn Webb, a friend of the DeSoto victims, said Zina Bowser was in the process of divorcing her estranged husband. “He just tore so many hearts,” Webb said.
Zina Bowser obtained a protective order in February 2011 after an associate judge reported that “family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future.” It barred her husband from coming within 200 yards of her and her children and from communicating with the children. He later was arrested for violating the order.
In seeking the order, Zina Bowser said her husband had threatened the lives of her and her sons after she asked for a separation. According to her, Erbie Bowser told her that if she tried to take any of their belongings, “I will bury you.” She said he took a pocketknife from a drawer, opened it and said, “Call the police and I will execute your kids.”
She called 911 anyway and fled with her sons, and Erbie Bowser was arrested.
Bowser is 6-foot-7-inches tall and weighs 355 pounds, according to court records. He was a defensive tackle on the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs from 1987-89, and played in three games, a school spokeswoman said.
The Dallas Mavericks said Thursday that Bowser performed from 2002 to 2009 with its Dallas Mavs ManiAACs, which the NBA team describes as dance troupe made up of “beefy men” who entertain fans during games.
Bowser worked for nearly a decade as a special education teacher in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite. School district spokeswoman Laura Jobe said Thursday he resigned in 2010 “on good terms.” He also worked for a couple of seasons as a football coach at West Mesquite High School, she said.
Bowser served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army from October 1991 to November 2000. The U.S. Army media relations department said he served in the infantry at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and at Fort Drum in New York. He was never deployed overseas. The Army said it does not release information about whether a soldier is honorably or dishonorably discharged.
Garcia reported from Dallas, while Stengle reported from DeSoto. Associated Press writer Ramit Plushnick-Masti contributed to this report from Houston.