Man dead after property dispute in Lumberton

Hardin County shield

A Lumberton man was shot and killed Saturday, Aug. 24, following what Hardin County Sheriff's Office is calling a dispute with a Coleman Road homeowner over property that he was given permission to hunt on. The area, located near the Neches River, is secluded and usually accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs, the sheriff's office said in a press release.

"The property owner was allowing (58-year-old Mark Curran Neff) access to the property in exchange for overseeing it," said HCSO Captain Gary Spears. "The property is adjoined with the shooter's residence. There was a general dispute as to who had rights to go where on that property"

Spears said it was an unofficial arrangement between the property owner and Neff that he could use the property to hunt if he kept an eye on the place and watched over the property.

That dispute led to an apparent gunfight between Neff and the shooter, Spears said. Saturday night around 7:18 p.m., Hardin County deputies and investigators were called out to a residence on Coleman Road off Wingfield Drive near Lumberton where they found Neff deceased, apparently from gunshot wounds. Three firearms were recovered at the scene, and deputies located spent shell casings from three weapons. According to the press release, the people at the scene stated that Neff and the homeowner had gotten into a physical altercation when firearms were produced from both sides and multiple shots were fired.

"The problems stem at least  in part from a property dispute," HCSO Captain Gary Spears said. "There had been previous problems between the two, but I’m not aware of any physical violence . There has been no arrest at this time."

Spears said that the shooter claimed he shot Neff in self-defense.

"The shooter is claiming that it was in defense of him and his family. There were firearms on both sides," Spears said. "We're trying to figure out who brought what to the party. We found shell casings from both sides. We are trying to verify Neff fired at the shooter."

The case is still under investigation, Spears said. An autopsy was performed Monday, Aug. 26, at the Jefferson County Morgue, and evidence will be submitted to the crime lab for analysis, according to an HCSO press release.