DALLAS — A former teacher who once moonlighted as a hip-hop dancer entertaining NBA crowds has been arrested in the fatal shooting of four people in two Dallas-area homes, and police said Thursday he used an explosive device in one of the attacks.
Investigators arrested Erbie Bowser, 44, on Wednesday night at the second crime scene, DeSoto police Cpl. Melissa Franks said. Charges are pending, she said.
Four youths were also wounded in the attacks, two in each home. Franks said the attacks were a domestic incident and that investigators were trying to determine how Bowser knew the victims.
The first shooting took place at a house in southwest Dallas late Wednesday and the second happened about 15 minutes later in DeSoto, about 10 miles away, Dallas police Sgt. Warren Mitchell said.
Police were called around 10:30 p.m. to the home in Dallas where they found four gunshot victims. Police say 43-year-old Toya Smith and her 17-year-old daughter, Tasmia Allen, were slain at the home. Her 14-year-old son was wounded, as was a 17-year-old girl described as a family friend.
“She fell in my arms and she was bleeding and I moved her back to the sofa and that’s when I saw my grandbaby there,” said Toya Smith’s mother, Lurlean Smith, who discovered the victims after going to the home following a phone call with her daughter that abruptly ended.
Smith said she and other family members accompanying her noticed that lights were on but no one would answer the door. Near a window, she heard what she thought was someone gasping for breath.
She said it looked like there had been a struggle in the house. “He had tore that whole wall out, evidently he was throwing ‘em, I don’t know what he was doing,” Smith said.
She said she had warned her daughter for two years to stay away from Bowser. “He’s controlling. He thinks he can control women, but he did, he controlled my daughter. And it caused my baby’s death.”
After the shootings at the Dallas home, police allege, the gunman then fled to DeSoto, where he’s suspected of killing two women. Two boys, ages 11 and 13, were shot but survived that attack, Franks said, adding that it was a child at the residence who dialed 911.
A neighbor in DeSoto, Tommy Johnson, said he heard a loud boom Wednesday night coming from the direction of the home where the victims were later found.
“We thought it was coming from upstairs, because the kids are always upstairs making noise,” Johnson said. “I peeped out the front and that’s when I saw a bunch of officers walking down the sidewalk and about 10 houses up.”
Carolyn Webb, a family friend of the victims in the DeSoto house, said those killed were a woman who was divorcing the suspect and the woman’s adult daughter. “He just torn so many hearts,” she said.
Police said an explosive was used at the DeSoto house. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is providing technical assistance in the investigation, spokesman John Morrison said.
The Dallas Mavericks said Thursday that Bowser was a dancer for the team, performing with the Dallas Mavs ManiAACs. The team describes the dance troupe as “beefy men” who entertain fans during games. Bowser danced with the group from 2002 to 2009.
He worked for nearly a decade as a special education teacher in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite. School district spokeswoman Laura Jobe said Thursday he resigned in 2010, “on good terms.” He also worked for a couple of seasons as a football coach at West Mesquite High School, she said.
Bowser served as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army from October 1991 to November 2000. He served in the infantry at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and at Fort Drum in New York, though he was never deployed overseas, according to the U.S. Army media relations department.
The Army says it does not release information about whether a soldier is honorably or dishonorably discharged.
Bowser, who court records list as 6-foot-7, 355 pounds, has had numerous brushes with the law, including most recently an arrest for violating a protective order, though the charges appear to have been dismissed. In 2011, Bowser was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though the outcome of that case is unclear. The only convictions he has are from charges in 1989 for evading arrest and an alcohol-related incident — both on the same date.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Ramit Plushnick-Masti and researcher Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report.