Cumby man charged in Commerce murder
Homicide is city's second in 3 weeks

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

July 1, 2005 -- A 25-year-old Cumby man is being held in the Hunt County jail in connection with the Thursday afternoon shooting death of a Commerce man.

Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews said Brian Ellis Patrick had been wanted in connection with the shooting death of James Prothro, also 25, of Commerce during the noon hour Thursday.

Chief Crews said the shooting occurred in the 600 block of 4th Street in Commerce.

"The victim was dating the suspect's sister, so I guess it was kind of a family ordeal," Crews said. "As far as why it occurred, we haven't gotten to that part yet."

Prothro was transported by helicopter to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where he was later pronounced dead.

Patrick reportedly fled the scene of the shooting and was the subject of an intense search by officers from the Commerce, Greenville and Wolfe City police departments, Hunt County Sheriff's Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers.

Suspecting Patrick might have headed toward his home in the Cumby area, Hopkins County officers were notified of the murder and given the description of a vehicle thought to be occupied by the suspect.

Hopkins County Sheriff's Deputy Charles Humphries was patrolling near Cumby and spotted the suspect vehicle and made a traffic stop, according to sheriff's investigator Jace Anglin.

"When he made the stop, Brian Patrick jumped out and ran on foot," Anglin said. "The other boy, the driver of the car, took off."

Deputies converged on the area along with Cumby officers, highway patrol troopers and the Texas Ranger and sealed off the area where the suspect was thought to be hiding.

Anglin said Deputy Eddie Moon arrived on the scene with his canine partner, Jack, and, found the murder suspect within minutes from the time the dog picked up the man's scent.

"He was in some brush, approximately 100 yards from where he jumped from the car," Anglin said. "He was scratched up pretty good from the brush."

Patrick was first taken to the Hopkins County jail, then transferred to Hunt County late Thursday.

Anglin said the weapon thought to have been used in the murder was recovered about the time the arrest was made. It was turned over to Commerce investigators Friday morning.

The Hopkins County investigator also said felony charges were pending against the person driving the car Patrick jumped from, and an arrest was expected to be made later Friday.

The Commerce police chief expressed his appreciation to Hopkins County officers for their efforts in making the arrest.

"They helped us out a lot on this deal, really," Chief Crews said.

The death of James Prothro marked the fourth murder in Hunt County this year and the second for Commerce in less than a month.

"It has been heck for us the last couple of weeks," Crews said. "I have been here more than 14 years, and this is the first time in one year, let alone one month," he said. "This is the second murder in less than three weeks for us."

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