The Texas Rangers are investigating the events surrounding the suicide of an Athens-area man this week.

Justin Taylor Boswell killed himself with a stolen sheriff deputy’s shotgun at around 6:20 p.m. Tuesday in a wooded area southwest of Athens. He was 21 years old.

Boswell was pursued by Henderson County Sheriff’s Deputies and other law officers for more than three hours after stealing a deputy’s cruiser. Earlier, he had been placed under arrest for allegedly assaulting his mother, Barbara Boswell, who did not require medical treatment. He resisted arrest and injured two deputies in the process.

After being placed in the back seat of the cruiser — reportedly wearing handcuffs and ankle cuffs — Boswell managed to get past a Plexiglas barrier and into the front seat. He then drove off in the car, leading to a manhunt that involved K-9 officers and a helicopter from the Texas Department of Public Safety. He abandoned the car, taking a shotgun with him, after running through a gate off of County Road 1500.

Boswell reportedly turned the gun on himself after being found by the K-9 officers near the abandoned cruiser. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace Tommy Barnett. His body was transported to Southwest Forensics in Dallas for an autopsy.

Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home is in charge of the funeral arrangements.

“The sheriff has requested that the Texas Rangers investigate the incident,” Sheriff’s Office Lt. Pat McWilliams said. “Once they’re done with the investigation, it’ll be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.”

Texas Rangers Sgt. Rudy Flores of Tyler is the officer in charge of the investigation, filling in for Athens Ranger Trace McDonald. A voicemail message on McDonald’s phone said that he would be out of the office for the next several weeks.

Sheriff Ronny Brownlow said that further details on the investigation would only be available from the Texas Rangers.

“That’s standard procedure, to have an outside agency investigate an incident like this,” Brownlow said.

Flores could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Boswell’s older brother, James Aaron Boswell, 28, was also arrested yesterday for interfering with Justin’s arrest. He was arraigned at the Henderson County Jail Wednesday morning by Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Henry Ashford on charges of interfering with public duty, resisting arrest and assault on a public servant.

He is being held in jail on $37,500 bond.

Boswell’s parents, Barbara and Russell, were unavailable for comment Wednesday. Barbara’s brother-in-law, B.G. Williams of Corsicana, said he didn’t understand how his nephew was able to escape.

“I was just talking to (the deputies), trying to figure out how in the world he could’ve gotten the car,” Williams said. “Supposedly his hands were cuffed and his legs were cuffed.”

While officers were still searching for Boswell, Williams had requested an opportunity for the family to speak to Boswell over a megaphone. Williams said Wednesday the family didn’t get the chance.

“If there’s some way that you could arrange for (the father) to speak to him on a bullhorn, he could tell him that it’s all right, and that he can come out,” Williams said to Sheriff’s Office Lt. Pat McWilliams on Tuesday. “We don’t want to go in there or anything.”

McWilliams told him the request probably wasn’t possible to fulfill.

“We’re not sure where he is,” McWilliams said. He added that Williams would need to speak to the officer in charge of the scene.

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e-mail dgordon@athensreview.com

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