HOUSTON— A man accused of killing one of former President George H.W. Bush’s doctors killed himself during a confrontation with authorities Friday morning, the city’s police chief said.
Joseph James Pappas, 62, died from a single self-inflicted shot to the head, Chief Art Acevedo told reporters. Pappas had body armor on during the confrontation and shot himself after a second police unit arrived, Acevedo said.
Police were called to the scene after a city worker reported seeing Pappas in the area. Authorities on Wednesday had announced Pappas as a suspect in the July 20 death of Dr. Mark Hausknecht and had been searching for him. The confrontation occurred about 3 1/2 miles from Pappas’ Houston home.
Police allege Pappas shot Hausknecht while the cardiologist rode his bike to work at Houston Methodist Hospital. Acevedo has said Pappas might have been seeking revenge for his mother, who died on the doctor’s operating table more than 20 years ago, in April 1997.
Authorities had previously described Pappas as armed, dangerous and possibly suicidal.
Pappas’ body was still at the scene of the confrontation when Acevedo announced his death. At least seven police vehicle were in a residential area blocked off by yellow police tape.
Police had said shots that Pappas allegedly fired at Hausknecht as he also rode on a bike “took some skill.” Hausknecht was shot three times.
Police said Pappas also put together an extensive intelligence file on the doctor, which investigators found at his home.
Pappas had worked from 1983 through 1995 as a peace officer with two Houston-area constable offices. He also worked from 1995 through 2013 as a reserve officer for these same constable offices, according to records from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Friends and family have described Hausknecht as a humble and generous man who was adored by his patients, volunteered in his community and cared about the environment.
Hausknecht was also an avid cyclist and rode his bike to work each morning, as he lived less than 2 miles from his office.
In 2000, Hausknecht treated Bush for an irregular heartbeat after the ex-president complained about lightheadedness.