Burrell receives maximum sentence for shooting at Palestine High School
Bobby Burrell, 63 years old of Teague, Texas was sentenced by 87th Judicial District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans to the maximum sentence of 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division for 6 counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. On February 26, 2016, Burrell traveled to Palestine High School to watch his grandson play in a basketball playoff game between Teague and Malakoff. Upon arrival, he saw his ex-wife and another man. He exited his vehicle and began shooting. He opened fire on an unoccupied car, an SUV with a family of four inside and then shot the man accompanying his ex-wife.
After the shooting, he pistol whipped his ex wife and struck her about her face and body with his fist. Good Samaritans intervened, including the driver of the shot SUV, and an off duty Malakoff I.S.D. police officer who was able to recover Burrell?s firearm. The occupants of the vehicle were unharmed as the bullets missed a young child and father by inches. The man with Burrell?s ex-wife was shot in the arm and underwent surgery for his injury while Burrell?s ex-wife was treated for her wounds. A young relative of Burrell?s witnessed the entire ordeal.
On November 17, 2016, Burrell entered an open plea of guilty on all 6 counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and the sentencing hearing was conducted on January 27, 2017. Presiding Judge Oakes Evans heard testimony from 13 witnesses by the State, represented by Criminal District Attorney Allyson Mitchell and 1st Assistant District Attorney Scott Holden, and 4 witnesses from the defense, including Burrell, by local attorney Stephen Evans. The family of four from the SUV struck by Burrell?s bullets testified that once they realized they had been shot, they were in fear of their lives. One of the young children riding in the backseat, who narrowly missed getting shot, emotionally testified that she still thinks about that night. The man shot in the arm by Burrell testified that he has lasting effects from being shot which include limited use of his arm and financial setbacks. Burrell?s ex-wife testified that she walks in fear around her community of Teague every day, afraid Burrell may come at her again. All six of the witnesses told the court that they had forgiven Burrell for his actions. Two of Burrell?s daughters testified on his behalf detailing his medical condition of renal failure and stated his actions were uncharacteristic. Burrell testified about his health, stated that his ex-wife should not have been there, and that he does not know why he committed the crimes.
In sentencing Burrell to 20 years in prison on each count, Presiding Judge Oaks Evans told Burrell she thought he was ?a danger, a serious danger. Who?s to say it wouldn?t happen again?? She further noted that the only positive side to this case is, ?there?s so many people that are willing to step up and protect other people.
?.[they] ?put their own lives at risk to try to make sure that Mr. Burrell didn?t hurt or kill anyone else.?
Criminal District Attorney Allyson Mitchell stated that she ?believes that the maximum sentence is just in light of Burrell?s actions, actions that clearly endangered the lives of so many innocent people.? Mitchell praised the work by the Palestine Police Department, first responders and Palestine High School administrators and staff. She further explained that Burrell is not eligible for parole consideration until at least 10 years of his sentence has been served because he used a firearm and by operation of law the counts could not be stacked.
Additionally, she explained that the facts of the case did not meet the qualification for family violence enhancement. ?Truly, by the grace of God others were spared? stated Mitchell. ?Burrell took it upon himself to take his personal anger out by targeting specific people and recklessly endangering the lives of children, students, families, visitors and staff. Not only did it affect those present, it also affected those associated with Palestine I.S.D as students and staff.?