HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Joseph James Pappas, the man police say shot and killed Dr. Mark Hausknecht two weeks ago, committed suicide Friday morning at a neighborhood in southwest Houston. Police said the 62-year-old suspect shot himself in the head when police confronted him.
It happened after 9:30 a.m. at the intersection of Imogene and Bob White Street.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said an employee from the Houston Parks Board, who was surveying the area near Brays Bayou for graffiti vandals, called police after he spotted Pappas from afar and approached him. Acevedo said the employee didn't realize it was Pappas initially, but called police when he found Pappas' wallet and ID.
Acevedo said when the first officer arrived, Pappas was not complying with his commands. Pappas was wearing a bullet proof vest and only had one hand in the air. Police said his right hand was hanging on to his revolver. Investigators said it wasn't until the second officer arrived and police began closing in on the suspect that Pappas shot himself in the head.
Acevedo said things could've panned out very differently if the second officer didn't arrive when he did.
''I'm convinced that had we not had that second officer arrive from the different angle, we might've had a shoot out out here," Acevedo said.
The man who lived across the street from where the Pappas shot himself, said he heard loud arguing and looked through his blinds and watched the entire scene unfold.
"I heard somebody yelling outside-- really loud or I wouldn't have been able to hear it. I saw the police officer standing over on the other side of the street. He pulled his weapon *points* and he had it on whoever was behind the tree with his hand up. I was wondering what the heck was going on and then I heard a gun shot-- just one," Stephen said.
Although police are breathing a sigh of relief that the man they considered armed, dangerous and on the loose, has been found-- the investigation into his disturbing motive continues. Investigators said Pappas held a more than 20-year-grudge against Dr. Hausknecht, after his mother died during surgery in 1997.
Acevedo also revealed police found an extensive, intelligence file on Dr. Hausknecht inside Pappas' Westbury home when investigators raided it Tuesday night. Police said not only were there details about where the doctor lived and what he drove, there was also a list with a couple dozen names of other doctors and staff members from the Texas Medical Center. Investigators said they've handed that information over to TMC, but a representative there declined to comment.
Dr. Georgia Hsieh, Dr. Hausknecht's wife, released a statement on Friday saying, "I echo the sentiments of Houston Police Department Chief Acevedo this morning in thanking the numerous departments, communities, and individuals involved whose teamwork and cooperation lead to the rapid resolution of this case. Media’s role in keeping the public informed is also acknowledged. The family can never adequately thank our friends and neighbors who have loved and supported us. I am most grateful, however, for the many wonderful years our family shared together."
Hausknecht was well known in the medical community and even helped treat former President George H.W. Bush in February 2000 for an irregular heartbeat.
Upon learning of Dr. Hausknecht's death, Bush released the following statement on Twitter through his spokesman Jim McGrath:
President George H. W. Bush was deeply saddened by the tragic circumstances surrounding the untimely passing of Dr. Mark Hausknecht in Houston earlier today, and 41 sends his most sincere condolences to the Hausknechts family, his colleagues at Houston Methodist, and his friends.
"Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man," President Bush said. "I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayers."