By Marice Richter
DALLAS (Reuters) - A former Texas special education teacher, described by a colleague as a "gentle giant," was suspected of shooting four people dead and wounding four others after an apparent domestic dispute late on Wednesday, police said.
The shooting spree began inside a home in Dallas and ended soon afterward in another house in DeSoto, a suburb about 15 miles south, said Corporal Melissa Franks of the DeSoto, Texas Police Department.
A suspect identified as Erbie Bowser was taken into custody, Franks said.
Bowser was a well-liked special education teacher in Mesquite, Texas, who resigned in 2010, said Laura Jobe, a spokeswoman for the Mesquite Independent School District.
A woman in her early 40s and a 17-year-old girl were found dead at the first residence, police said. No description was given for the people who were killed at the second residence.
Two of the people who were wounded were described as a 17-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. No details were given of the other two people who were wounded.
Police said the first emergency call came at about 10:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday from a woman who became concerned after speaking by phone with one of the people at the first residence. She drove to the house but no one answered the door, so she called 911. Police found two people dead inside.
Soon after the initial discovery, another emergency call was received from the second residence, where police found two more bodies.
"We do believe this is a domestic-related incident," a police official said.
All of the those killed were believed to have died from gunshot wounds, police said, although some other type of weapon was involved, police said.
"I believe there was an explosive device used," Franks said, adding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies had been brought in to investigate.
Army spokesman Troy A. Rolan said a man named Erbie Bowser served in the U.S. Army from October 1991 to November 2000, reaching the rank of sergeant and receiving several medals, including one for good conduct, and received an "Expert Infantryman" badge.
Jobe said Bowser, a certified special education teacher, worked at two schools in the Mesquite Independent School District from December 2001 through March 2010. He also coached football at the West Mesquite High School.
"He left on good terms. He did resign, he was not terminated," she said.
"He had a good history here. He was well liked. He's been described as a gentle giant," Jobe said.
A spokesman for the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team confirmed that Bowser had been a member of the group's male dance team, the Mavs ManiAACs. He left the squad in 2009 and the basketball team had not been in contact with him since, the spokesman said, declining to be named.
Franks said no information about the suspect's background would be released, pending the filing of formal charges.
(Reporting by Tom Brown and Mary Wisniewski; Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Bernadette Baum)