Update: Person of interest taken into custody in shooting of Judge Julie Kocurek
Update: 9:45 P.M.
Federal sources tell FOX 7 that a person of interest has been taken into custody in connection to the shooting of Judge Julie Kocurek and is being questioned by authorities in Houston.
The search continues for the person who tried to gun down a Travis County judge over the weekend. District Court Judge Julie Kocurek is recovering after what some believe was an assassination attempt.
APD Detectives are looking into previous cases handled by Judge Julie Kocurek in an attempt to identify a possible suspect in her shooting. Among the cases is one involving a former client of Defense Attorney Amber Vasquez Bode. She said he has a solid alibi but declined to provide specific details.
" I am not at liberty to say right now,” said Bode.
Judge Kocurek was ambushed in her driveway Friday night as she was returning home from a high school football game. A motive remains a mystery.
"It could be anything it could be a family member who got a sentence that for some reason they felt was unjust, it could be someone from long ago that has harbored a grudge," said Bode.
According to investigators Kocurek's driveway was blocked. When the driver of the car, that Kocurek was in, got out- at least one shot was fired. Its believed the judge was wounded when a side window shattered and she was also hit by metal fragments.
The shooting of a sitting judge is certainly shocking but a review by FOX 7 of some cases from the past indicates that an attack on an officer of the court is not out of the ordinary. The cases date back to 1979 and most recently this past August. The circumstances include; a hit ordered by a drug dealer on a Federal judge in San Antonio. A courtroom rampage in Tarrant Co. that killed a prosecutor and wounded two judges. A knife attack on a Bowie, TX municipal court judge. Domestic disputes involving a Gregg Co. J.P., a juvenile court judge in Rowlett, TX and a District Judge from Corpus Christi. A Ft. Bend Co. Prosecutor was also shot and killed during a robbery.
As with some of those cases- Friday's attack on Judge Kocurek could also become a multi-agency investigation, according to Hector Gomez, with the U.S. Marshal's Service which is responsible for protecting federal judges.
"We will continue to pay close attention to this case and certainly avail the U.S. Marshal's Service and the fugitive task force in any aspect of this investigation that the Austin police makes a request of us,” said Gomez.
FOX 7 has also confirmed that the Texas Rangers are providing some assistance with the investigation. The FBI has also offered to help, but officials tell FOX 7 that APD has not yet asked for their help.
Meanwhile, Judge Kocurek's courtroom is expected to re-open with a visiting judge taking over her docket.
The Kocurek family released a statement to FOX 7 Monday afternoon. The statement reads:
Amanda Blease with Hahn Public Communications released the following statement on behave of the Kocurek family Monday evening...
“The Kocurek family is grateful to everyone for their thoughts, prayers and support; the outpouring has been a tremendous source of encouragement. Judge Kocurek is receiving great care from a wonderful team of doctors and nurses. Their efforts, along with Judge Kocurek’s faith, are helping her improve everyday.”
— Bill Rhea, family representative
Texas Judicial Death/Attacks
May 1979 - San Antonio, TX
Fed Judge John Wood Jr.
July 1992 - Tarrant Co.
Judge John G. Hill
July 1992 - Tarrant Co.
Judge Clyde Ashworth
July 1992 - Tarrant Co.
Asst. D.A. C. Chris Marshall
Offender: George Lott
Sept. 1996 - Fort Bend Co.
Asst. D.A. Gil Epstein
Offender: Marcus Cotton
June 2010 - Rowlett, TX
Juvenile Court Judge Belinda Loveland
Jan 2013 - Kaufman Co.
Asst. D.A. Mark Hasse
Suspect: Eric Williams
March 2013 - Kaufman Co.
D.A. Mike McLelland
Offender: Eric Williams
March 2013 - Gregg Co.
Justice of the Peace Sam Lawson
July 2013 - Corpus Christi
District Judge Tom Greenwell's
April 2015 - Bowie, TX
Municipal Judge Darla Cordell
Assailant At Large
August 2015 - Corpus Christi
Fmr District Judge Jack Hunter
Austin Police are searching for the person who shot State District Judge Julie Kocurek in her driveway Friday night in West Austin. Yellow crime scene tape blocked off parts of Scenic Drive in Tarrytown as police canvassed the area looking for clues.
"This evening around 10:16 p.m. APD received called about shots fired," said Commander Mark Spangler during a media briefing. Spangler works with APD's violent crimes unit and special investigations.
He says while Kocurek's injury is extremely serious it is not considered to be life threatening. EMS rushed her to UMC Brackenridge where she is being treated.
Kocurek had just returned home and was with others when she was shot according to Spangler. No one else was injured.
By air and on the ground officers searched for any signs of the shooter. The time of evening made the search challenging. "Unfortunately this happened during the darkness and we're working through some witnesses who we are hoping can give us some details to help us track down this person or persons who are responsible for the shooting," said Spangler.
At this point in the investigation detectives are still working to determine how many shots were fired. Another part of the investigation will be to determine if this shooting is in anyway connected to cases Kocurek may have presided over.
"The truth at this point is we don't have someone in custody so people should use that heightened state of awareness and call 911 if they see anything suspicious," added Spangler.