Suspect in '20-Year-Old Grudge' Slaying of George H.W. Bush's Cardiologist Kills Himself
Dr. Mark Hausknecht was riding his bicycle to work when he was fatally shot last month by another bicyclist going in the opposite direction
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced the suicide ofJoseph James Pappas, 65, at a Friday press conference, saying, “This doesn’t bring anybody back but it does bring closure.”
Dr. Mark Hausknecht was riding his bicycle to work July 20 when he was fatally shot by another bicyclist going in the opposite direction. The cardiologist, 65, was pronounced dead at Ben Taub General Hospital, and police announced days later they believed he’d been targeted.
Houston police had announced on Wednesday that Pappas’ mother was once one of Hausknecht’s patients and died during surgery more than 20 years ago. Police believe that Pappas shot Hausknecht out of retaliation. “It appears to be a 20-year-old grudge this person held,” Acevedo told reporters.
According to the KHOU-TV, Pappas was a former police officer who tried to sell guns and ammunition online. The station reports that Pappas most recently worked as a reserve officer in Harris County, Texas, from 1995 to 2013.
“There was a lot of planning that went into this,” Acevedo said Wednesday. “There was a lot of planning and sadly some skill.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, Pappas had been putting together a detailed file on Hausknecht, including information on his routine and his job.
He also had a sheet of paper listing more than 20 names of other medical professionals and employees of the Texas Medical Center.
“It was creating a lot of panic in the Texas Medical Center,” Acevedo said Friday.
Police received several tips that pointed towards Pappas as a suspect, Acevedo said. One of the tipsters said that they had received a text that Pappas was going to kill himself.
Prior to his suicide, Pappas had not been seen for days and was considered armed, dangerous and suicidal, Acevedo said.
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His suicide concluded a chain of events that began when a man working for the Houston Parks Board reported Pappas as a suspicious person after he approached Pappas and saw him walk away. Pappas left behind his wallet, and when the man opened the wallet and recognized Pappas’ name, he immediately recognized him as the suspect, said Acevdeo.
According to the Chronicle, a police officer summoned to the scene confronted Pappas, who wore body armor and mentioned suicide and did not comply with the officer’s request. When another officer arrived, Pappas shot himself in the head.
“You normally don’t put on a bullet proof vest when you’re planning to commit suicide,” Acevedo said. “I’m convinced if we had not had that second officer arrive from a different angle we might have had a shoot-out.”
Bush, 94, released a statement after Hausknecht’s death through spokesman Jim McGrath, saying he was “deeply saddened.”
The former president “sends his most sincere condolences to the Hausknecht family, his colleagues at Houston Methodist, and his friends.”