Vidor man killed in Orange County shooting; no charges, no arrest for shooter

Steven Coutee of Vidor was shot and killed Oct. 29
Ronald Barnes of Hartburg was killed June 7, 2014

The shooter reportedly responsible for the death of a Vidor man Oct. 29 has not been arrested or charged for the killing, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and investigators are looking into the circumstances leading up to the incident in order to determine whether or not charges will be filed.

OCSO Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkison reports that deputies responded to a residence in the 400 block of Florence Street in Orange County, just outside the city limits of Vidor, in reference to a possible shooting a short time after 9 p.m. Thursday. Upon arrival at the scene, deputies found a 48-year-old Vidor resident, identified as Steven Coutee, deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. The person believed to be responsible for shooting Coutee was on scene and cooperated with deputies as they gathered statements, said Hodgkinson in a news release.

Coutee himself shot and killed Hartburg resident Ronald Thomas Barnes, 60, in a similar incident at another residence in the 400 block of Florence Street on June 7, 2014. In that instance, Orange County deputies received a 911 call in reference to a shooting at what was then Coutee’s Florence Street residence at about 10:15 a.m. When deputies arrived, they discovered 60-year-old Ronald Thomas Barnes deceased from several gunshot wounds. Coutee, the homeowner, was at the scene when deputies arrived and was reported as cooperating with investigators. He reportedly told police that the two men were at the residence when they got into a disagreement that escalated to the point that they each produced a firearm. According to the news release from OCSO, Coutee shot Barnes and then called 911. No arrest was made, and Coutee was never charged in that shooting.

Deputies said then that investigators were still trying to determine the circumstances that led up to the death of Ronald Barnes, just as they are now with Coutee’s death. Last year, Chief Deputy Hodgkinson said investigators on the case split up to “go down different rabbit holes” in order to find all the facts of the complicated incident. Because Barnes was killed, he was not able to corroborate or contradict Coutee’s account of the events that led up to the fateful shooting, said OCSO. According to Hodgkinson, all investigators had to go on then were Coutee’s story and the story told by the physical evidence.

“At this point, we haven’t arrested the guy because there is obviously more to it,” Hodgkinson explained, saying police didn’t have enough at that point to say whether an arrest would be made. “We are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened.”

A criminal database search revealed Coutee was arrested in the past for charges including arson, assault, retaliation and unlawfully carrying a weapon.

In relation to the recent shooting that claimed Coutee’s life, Chief Hodgkinson said, “It is ironic that Coutee is now the one deceased from a shooting where self-defense is the claim by this individual. It is not related at all to the one last year where Coutee was the shooter.”

Hodgkinson reports Coutee and the man who shot him were merely acquaintances and did not know one another well.

The investigation into the more recent shooting resulting in Coutee’s death is ongoing. Autopsy and toxicology results are pending.