HOUSTON (CN) – With Houston reeling from the fatal shooting of a sheriff’s officer, killed as he pumped gas, the police chief announced a “Pray for Police” campaign to begin today.
Police Chief Charles McClelland and other local officials were to kick off the program Tuesday morning at Houston Police Officers Union headquarters.
Harris County sheriff’s Officer Darren Goforth, 47, was shot 15 times from behind on Aug. 28 as he filled up his cruiser at a Houston gas station.
Shannon Miles, 30, is in Harris County Jail facing capital murder charges. Police are seeking a motive for what appears to be a random killing.
Sheriff Ron Hickman told reporters that police believe Miles, who is black, shot the white deputy Goforth because he was in uniform. There is no evidence they knew each other.
More than 11,000 people attended Goforth’s funeral Friday and $500,000 in donations has been raised for his family. He is survived by his wife, a 12-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.
Miles spent several months in a state mental hospital in 2012 after the Travis County District Attorney’s Office charged him with aggravated assault for an incident at a homeless shelter, in which he fought over the remote control for a TV, according to The Associated Press.
A 24-hour vigil in the “Pray for Police” campaign will begin at 6 a.m. Wednesday. More than 30,000 light blue wristbands with the words “Pray for Police” and the hashtag “P4P” will be given to anyone who goes to the Houston police union office to pray with volunteer clergy, McClelland said.
“Pray for Police” joins “Black Lives Matter” as slogans spawned by the spate of killings that appear to have snowballed since a white policeman in Ferguson, Mo. shot black teenager Michael Brown dead in August 2014.
It is difficult to decipher whether such killings actually have increased in the past year, or whether the Internet, widespread use of cellphone video and increased public awareness make it seem so. FBI statistics on such killings are unreliable, as they are based upon self-reporting from police departments.
Slated to join the police chief at the police union headquarters Tuesday morning were Mayor Annise Parker, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson and Sheriff Hickman.
One of Miles’ two court-appointed attorneys told the Associated Press that his client will plead not guilty.
Miles will be arraigned on Oct. 5 in Harris County Court.