JASPER COUNTY - by Mike Lout and Steve Stewart/KJAS and Rayburn Broadcasting Company
Three people have been arrested in connection with the March home invasion, armed robbery and shooting of a Jasper businessman and wife.
Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman said warrants charging the trio with the crime were served shortly before 3:00 on Tuesday in the investigation of the incident which left Robert and Ailene Shellhammer severely wounded.
Newman said two of the suspects, Michael Byerly, 21 and Dione Seastrunk, 20, both of Jasper, were being held at the Jasper County Jail at the time the warrant was issued, where they were already charged with a shooting that took place in Buna in July of 2013. Newman said the third suspect in the case, Xavier Clark, 20, also of Jasper, was being held at the Newton County Jail, where he is charged with a robbery of a bank.
According to Newman, the break in the case came a few days ago when investigator Connie Jordan received information concerning the robbery at the Shellhammer's home. Newman said "good hard police work by both Jordan and Chief Deputy Cynthia Hall of the Newton County Sheriff's Department paid off and resulted in solving the case."
Newman also said that assistance from officers with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others also paid off in solving the case.
Although he would not discuss the specifics, Newman said that the investigation was continuing and that it might soon result in additional arrests and charges.
Officers say three men went to the home of the Shellhammers, located behind the family's business, Bucksprings Water Company on Highway 96, about 5 miles north of Jasper, on the evening of March 25th where they disabled the family's water well. Newman said that when Robert Shellhammer became aware that there was no water in his home, he went outside to check on the pump, where he was attacked by the men. Officers said the trio not only shot Robert Shellhammer in the foot, but also went into the couple's home where they shot his wife, Ailene, in the foot as they forced her to open a safe and hand over money.
All three men are also believed to be responsible for a robbery that took place at the Sabine State Bank on Highway 63, in Burkeville in mid June of this year. In that case, the trio allegedly left the bank after stabbing the manager of the institution, Trudy Woods, in the back.
Newman said that when the warrant was served, Seastrunk was already in jail, where he was being held in connection with a shooing that occurred in July of 2013 at a home in Buna leaving 44 year old Deann Elder severely injured.
According to Newman, Byerly and Clark are also "persons of interest" in the shooting that occurred in Buna.