Texas Sheriff's Deputy Shot "Execution Style" Near Houston

An extensive manhunt for the gunman who allegedly shot and killed a sheriff's deputy at a gas station near Houston swept through southeastern Texas early Saturday morning. According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Deputy Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the sheriff's office, was filling up his patrol car at a local Chevron station Friday night when he was ambushed in what appears to be an "unprovoked attack," authorities said. According to Reuters, a suspect — a young man authorities believe is his early- to-mid 20s — was taken into custody early Saturday morning, but the sheriff's office has yet to confirm that the suspect is the alleged gunman.

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman announced Goforth's identity in a news conference late on Friday. The 47-year-old veteran deputy is survived by his wife and two children. "Tonight we are grieving the loss of one of our brothers," Hickman said. "Our hearts are broken tonight."

Hickman called the incident an "execution-style killing," adding that Goforth was shot several times from behind as he stood at the gas pump. According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the gunman continued to shoot Goforth even after he fell to the ground.

“We will hunt this person down and do our best to bring that person to justice,” Hickman said at the news conference. The Harris County Sheriff's Office has gas station surveillance footage that appears to show the suspected gunman, who fled the scene in a red Ford Ranger. Authorities believe that young man is between 20 and 25 years old, is around 6 feet tall, and has short hair and a dark complexion.

Authorities have yet to release the identity of the person of interest they have taken into custody. "There is a suspect in custody believed to be the shooter," a Houston police officer told Reuters, adding that the suspect was taken into custody at his mother's house.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety also confirmed that a suspect believed to be the gunman was in custody. According to CNN, authorities were led to the suspect through his own mother, who alerted police about her son.

But there's also conflicting reports about the young man in custody. Local news station ABC 13 reported that the man's mother claimed her son is innocent. "I was in the house with him, so when that happened, my son was home," the mother, who did not want to be named, told ABC 13.

Yet according to both ABC 13 and CNN affiliate KTRK, a red pick-up truck similar to the one seen in the gas station surveillance photos was parked in the driveway of the home where authorities took the young man into custody. So far, no formal charges have been brought against the person of interest.

The shooting ambush has shocked police officers in the Houston area. Harris County Sheriff Hickman said the "act of cowardice and brutality" was unprecedented during his decades of service on the force. "I've been in law enforcement 45 years," Hickman said at Friday night's news conference. "I don't recall another incident this cold blooded and cowardly."

Image: Harris County Sheriff's Office