TEXAS CITY — A nearly six-hour standoff between police and a distraught man armed with a shotgun ended without violence Tuesday afternoon.
Galveston County Sheriff’s Office mental health deputies left with the 60-year-old Vietnam combat veteran after Texas City police convinced him to come out of his house.
Police were called to the house in the 3500 block of Texas Avenue at about 7:15 a.m. after a neighbor called concerned that he hadn’t seen or heard from his friend in several days.
Several streets were closed and SWAT was called after police arrived at the house and found Kim Timberlake on a couch holding a shotgun to his throat.
“He usually calls me to take him to get his beer and cigarettes,” neighbor Johnny Ray Fennell said. “When I hadn’t heard from him, I called worried that he may be dead.”
Police were able to establish a line of communication with Timberlake and, after sending in a cigarette and some water he had requested, were able to convince him to put down the gun and come out.
He was brought out on a stretcher and taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch. The city’s animal control officers also took custody of the man’s dogs, including a Doberman pincher.
Police said Timberlake likely would not face charges.
Police revealed that Timberlake lived in the 900 square-foot home without water, electrical or gas service. City records show that water service was cut off in September 2011, and police records indicate that electrical service has been disconnected several times as recently as the fall of last year.
Fennell said Timberlake was using a water hose from a neighboring business to get water and had plugged in an extension cord at another business to power a lamp and radio.
City Housing Director George Fuller said he was called to the house recently after Timberlake called police complaining he didn’t have food. Fennell confirmed that neighbors regularly would chip in to help Timberlake get food.
The Galveston County Food Bank, through Fuller, provided some food assistance, and Fuller said he didn’t push to remove Timberlake from his house despite the lack of utilities because of the man’s veteran benefit status.
Fuller said Timberlake complained that his veteran’s benefits had been cut off and he was trying to get them reinstated. The Daily News was unable to reach U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials to confirm the status of the benefits.
Police records, however, indicate that police, city officials and neighbors all attempted to help Timberlake get regular assistance through the years but were met with resistance from the often-combative man.
Veterans having problems with their benefits or finding assistance and living in poverty are all things Frank Furleigh, the county’s veteran service officer, has heard before.
While his office doesn’t provide direct benefits to veterans, there are several programs through the VA and the state that his office assists veterans in obtaining.
The county’s social service office has some assistance programs, and several United Way supported agencies also provide utility and food assistance.
Furleigh said as well that the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Texas has grant money from the Texas Veterans Commission.
Furleigh said the online application for that assistance is also something for which his office, which is located in the Galveston County mid-county annex building in Texas City, can provide assistance.
In December, the VA announced a $300 million program aimed at assisting veterans through its Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program. The Texas Veterans Legal Assistance Project provides legal services, including assistance in obtaining VA benefits, for low-income Texas veterans and their families.
According to a Veterans Affairs National Center for Homelessness Among Veterans report issued in 2010, it is estimated that 6 percent of the country’s population living in poverty are veterans. That’s roughly 3 million veterans.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are 1.3 million wartime veterans living in Texas — second highest in the nation — and more than 43 percent served in the Vietnam War era from February 1961 through May 1975. It’s estimated that there are 23,700 veterans living in Galveston County
According to the Homelessness Among Veterans report, about 28 percent of the country’s veterans who are between 51 and 61 years old are classified as living in poverty. That number shoots up to about 39 percent for veterans 62 years and older.
- Galveston County Veterans Service Office: 409-766-2448
- Veterans Affairs Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 Press 1
- Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program: 877-424-3838
- Texas Veterans Legal Assistance Project: 800-622-2520, Press 2