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Authorities: Fatal shooting in Liberty-Eylau could be self-defense

by Gazette Staff | May 24, 2018 at 8:44 p.m. | Updated May 24, 2018 at 8:43 p.m.

A fatal shooting early Thursday in Liberty-Eylau appears to be a case of self-defense, an official with Bowie County Sheriff's Office said.

The sheriff's office received a phone call at 5:29 a.m. Thursday from a woman who identifed herself as Tonya Barnett, 40, of Texarkana, Texas. Barnett reportedly told deputies she had been assaulted by her boyfriend and had shot him, said Capt. Jeff Neal, BCSO chief deputy.

Deputies found Cecil Ellis Jr., 35, of Magnolia, Ark., dead on the floor of the home in the 100 block of Parkway when they arrived. Barnett told investigators that during the assault, Ellis had choked her until she passed out.

She reportedly picked up a handgun to protect herself when she regained consciousness. Ellis continued his assault of Barnett and was shot during the confrontation, Neal said.

Ellis' body has been sent for an autopsy. Barnett sought medical evaluation and treatment for injuries she received during the assault. She was treated and released by a doctor.

Barnett has cooperated fully with investigators during the investigation, Neal said, and no arrest has been made because Barnett's statement to investigators indicates it could be a case of self-defense.

The investigation is ongoing.


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