ARLINGTON, Texas (CBS11) – The man Arlington Police say forced an officer to open fire in a crowded shopping mall Sunday wasn’t trouble waiting to happen: William Paul Dodd appears to have been searching for trouble for days.
According to police, the convicted felon led an officer on a brief chase Friday following a traffic stop. And then an hour before being accused of shoplifting at the Parks Mall, he made a 911 call, telling the dispatcher “… this is William Paul Dodd… I evaded arrest the other day.”
Although Dodd’s words were slurred, the warning was clear. During that 911 call he went on to say that “I know Arlington is looking for me. But, I got a gun, so if you pull me over I’m gonna shoot. So just be ready.”
Police now suspect that Dodd may have been trying to commit what has been called ‘suicide by cop’ when he pointed a weapon at an officer at the Parks Mall Sunday, forcing that officer to open fire. It was only later that police were able to determine that Dodd’s ‘weapon’ was in fact a very realistic looking pellet gun.
“There is no training in the world that exists where an officer would be able to in a matter of seconds quickly distinguish between a real and a fake gun,” said Arlington police spokesperson, Lt. Christopher Cook.
Lt. Cook said the police department is frustrated after having repeatedly raised warnings about a spike in crimes committed using the realistic looking weapons.
“We need to have a serious conversation as a society as to why these things have to look so real,” said Cook.
In April of last year, an Arlington officer was confronted by a teenager brandishing one of the weapons. The officer was able to knock it out of his hands. Lt. Cook at the time told CBS11 “Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get killed.”
Those words now ring prophetic. But, police officials aren’t gloating about being right. They would rather see change.
“Why it’s so concerning to us: they’re easily accessible. Anybody can buy them. You can be a convicted felon and walk right into a sporting goods store and walk right out with something that looks very authentic and real.”
Dodd has been convicted of debit/credit card abuse and theft of a firearm. According to Arlington Police, he remains in critical condition. No one else at the mall was injured.