Officer shot in Beaumont disturbance; suspect dies from self-inflicted injuries

Aaron Gibson mugshot from Sept. 2015 assault arrest

A Beaumont officer’s ballistic vest was all that came between him and a bullet during a shootout with a local man Nov. 29, reports the Beaumont Police Department. Although the officer escaped with non-life threatening injuries, when the smoke cleared and police entered the home, they discovered the suspect deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Chief James Singletary said the officers did their best under the turbulent circumstances and ultimately came home safely after protecting the public during the volatile incident.

Sunday at approximately 4:35 p.m., Beaumont officers responded to the 7200 block of Griffing Boulevard in Beaumont in reference to a disturbance between a man and woman at a residence there. Officers arrived and began interviewing the couple. The male was identified as Aaron Scott Gibson, 40, of Beaumont. Police report that as they were speaking with Gibson, he seemed to become agitated. He then ran back into the house, shutting the front door and locking it. A short time later, Gibson fired several rounds toward the officers and the female from a front window inside the residence.

Officer Michael Wirfs was struck in the upper back area but was able to get out of the line of fire. His ballistic vest stopped the bullet, but the officer had to be taken to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the shooting.

SWAT responded to the location, and officers maintained a perimeter around the residence. After several hours, the SWAT team made entry into the house and found Gibson deceased in a bedroom from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

BPD Sgt. Cody Guedry said the officers and the woman involved in the disturbance are lucky to be alive.

“Within seconds, he had grabbed a gun and was firing at the officers and the woman through the window of the residence,” Guedry said.

Wirfs was shot in the upper back between his shoulder blades – inches from his head – with a 9mm handgun round.

“If the gunshot had struck Officer Wirfs just a little higher, it could have been fatal to him,” Guedry remarked.

Officers often don’t know what they are walking into when they respond to disturbance calls, Guedry asserted. Just like with traffic stops, he said, anything can happen.

“Last week, from Nov. 23 through Nov. 30, officers were dispatched to 314 disturbances, and that’s not including the times they are flagged down when passing by a disturbance. Typically, the disturbance calls end peacefully, but like with this situation, you just never know.”

According to Singletary, video of the incident is being reviewed, and the data provided could be useful for training purposes and procedural examination.

The chief said the two officers who initially responded to the disturbance call performed admirably.

“They have never been involved in a shooting before,” Singletary explained. “I am proud of the fact that they were not injured, and that they did not allow anyone else to be injured. Those two officers did a heck of a job under the most chaotic circumstances.

“My officers do an excellent job keeping citizens safe.”

Singletary said when Wirfs was hit, the officer took cover, as did his fellow officer and the female resident. Wirfs then assisted in directing dispatch to the location and alerting them to events transpiring at the scene.

“The officers both said they could hear the bullets whizzing past their heads,” Guedry said.

SWAT showed up after Wirfs was shot. They methodically assessed the situation and attempted, unsuccessfully, to make contact with Gibson inside the home, surrounding the residence in the process. Gibson was already dead when they found him.

Gibson has a history of violence, according to a criminal database and police records. He has two prior convictions for assault and was arrested for assault again in August 2015. Charges for the most recent incident were pending at the time of his death.

Guedry said that before Chief Singeltary took the reins as leader of BPD, ballistic vests were optional for officers and a few did not wear them. All that changed.

“It’s the chief’s rule that ballistic vests are mandatory,” Guedry revealed, crediting Singletary for enforcing the life-saving policy. “Since then, we have had multiple incidents during which officers took fire.”

Singletary was chief for about a month when he made the policy change.

“There was no argument from the officers,” Singletary recalled. “I think they all realized that in this day and time, they needed vests.

“I did get a lot of thanks from mothers and spouses, though.”

Singletary said his officers deserve thanks and credit for risking their lives to protect the public on a daily basis, just as Officer Wirfs and other responders did Nov. 29.

“Anyone who puts on a ballistic vest and a badge every day is a hero in my eyes,” the chief said.

The Nov. 29 incident is still under investigation, reports BPD.