DALLAS (AP) — A former teacher who moonlighted as a professional basketball team hip-hop dancer for several years was charged Thursday with capital murder in the fatal shooting of his estranged wife and her daughter.
Erbie Lee Bowser, 44, was arrested late Wednesday after police say he attacked people in two Dallas-area homes, killing four people, including his estranged wife, and wounding four others.
DeSoto police charged Bowser with capital murder in the attack in that suburb, which happened about 15 minutes after an attack in southwest Dallas, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) away. Two people were killed and two were wounded in each attack, and Dallas police said they were expecting to file two additional capital murder counts against Bowser in that attack.
Police say Bowser set off an explosive device in the attack in DeSoto, but it didn’t harm anyone. He was taken to jail after being examined at a hospital, Dallas police Maj. Jeff Cotner said Thursday.
DeSoto police Cpl. Melissa Franks said detectives haven’t been able to interview Bowser yet.
“He does lapse into periods where he lapses quietly or wants to go to sleep,” she said.
Police called to the Dallas home at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday found four people who had been shot, including Bowser’s girlfriend, 43-year-old Toya Smith, and her daughter, 17-year-old Tasmia Allen, who had been killed, Cotner said. Smith’s 14-year-old son and a 17-year-old family friend were wounded, he said.
Smith’s mother, Lurlean Smith, discovered the attack had happened when she went to her daughter’s home after getting a disturbing phone call from her. She said the lights were on but no one would answer the door. Near a window, she heard what she thought was someone gasping for breath. Once inside, her granddaughter’s wounded friend fell into her arms.
“She fell in my arms and she was bleeding and I moved her back to the sofa and that’s when I saw my grandbaby there,” said Smith, who said her granddaughter had been shot in the head.
She said there apparently had been a struggle. “He tore that whole wall out, evidently he was throwing them. I don’t know what he was doing,” Smith said.
She said she had been warning her daughter for two years to stay away from Bowser. “He’s controlling. He thinks he can control women, but he did, he controlled my daughter. And it caused my baby’s death,” Smith said.
After the Dallas attack, Bowser went to DeSota and fatally shot his estranged wife, 47-year-old Zina Bowser, and her 28-year-old daughter, Neima Williams, Franks said. He also shot and wounded two boys there, ages 11 and 13, who were in critical condition Thursday, she said.
Russ Morrison, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Bowser used an explosive device in the home that didn’t injure anyone.
Tommy Johnson, who lives near the home, said he heard a loud boom coming from the direction of the home where the victims were later found.
“We thought it was coming from upstairs, because the kids are always upstairs making noise,” Johnson said. “I went up and asked, ‘Did you hear anything?’ and one of my daughters said it came from outside. So I peeped out the front and that’s when I saw a bunch of officers walking down the sidewalk and about 10 houses up.”
Carolyn Webb, a friend of the DeSoto victims, said Zina Bowser was in the process of divorcing her estranged husband. “He just tore so many hearts,” Webb said.
The Dallas Mavericks said Thursday that Bowser performed from 2002 to 2009 with its Dallas Mavs ManiAACs, which the National Basketball Association team describes as dance troupe made up of “beefy men” who entertain fans during games. Bowser is 6-foot-7 inches (1.83-meter-17.8-centimeters) tall and weighs 355 pounds (160 kilograms), according to court records.
Bowser worked for nearly a decade as a special education teacher in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite. School district spokeswoman Laura Jobe said Thursday he resigned in 2010 “on good terms.” He also worked for a couple of seasons as a football coach at West Mesquite High School, she said.
Bowser served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army from October 1991 to November 2000. The U.S. Army media relations department said he served in the infantry at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and at Fort Drum in New York. He was never deployed overseas. The Army said it does not release information about whether a soldier is honorably or dishonorably discharged.
Bowser has had several previous brushes with the law, including most recently an arrest for violating a protective order, though the charges appear to have been dismissed. In 2011, Bowser was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though the outcome of that case is unclear. The only convictions he has are from charges in 1989 for evading arrest and an alcohol related incident — both on the same date.
Associated Press writer Ramit Plushnick-Masti contributed to this report.