Man Charged With Killing 2 Dentists Caught With Help of Employee: Police

A Texas man has been arrested and charged with capital murder for allegedly fatally shooting two dentists on Wednesday.

Steven Alexander Smith, 40, of Tyler, Texas, had been a patient at the Affordable Dentures & Implants dental clinic when police said he got angry at clinic staff, went to his pickup truck and returned displaying a gun before allegedly killing 59-year-old Dr. Blake G. Sinclair and 75-year-old Dr. Jack E. Burroughs, according to a release from the Smith County Sheriff's Office.

After the shooting, he fled the area.An employee of the clinic helped police track Smith down by taking a picture of Smith's pickup truck, KYTX-TV reported.

Shootings like these spark concern over the amount of firearms available in Texas. According to Texas Gun Sense, Texas has by far the most registered guns of any state, with more than 725,000—67 percent more than Florida, the second-highest ranking state. Texas also had the highest number of deaths from gun violence in 2020, totaling 4,164 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, though when analyzing deaths per capita, Texas was ranked the 26th highest in the nation.

In 2021, the state passed legislation permitting residents to carry a handgun without a license, a law that has attracted criticism from gun-control advocates. Gun rights in the Republican-leaning state have proven to be a hot-button issue in the current election cycle that has seen gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke's past comments on gun control potentially harm his bid for the governorship.

Smith is now facing charges of capital murder of multiple persons and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, KETK-TV reported. When combined, his bonds total $3 million. He remains incarcerated at Smith County Jail, the police release added.

The sheriff's deputies were able to quickly find Smith after obtaining the pickup truck's physical description and license plate number, the police release added. After finding Smith pulling into the driveway of his home, SWAT teams and negotiators surrounded the residence. First, two individuals identified as Smith's parents emerged from the home, then Smith did shortly thereafter, at which point he was taken into custody.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith told KYTX that in addition to fatally shooting Sinclair and Burroughs, Steven Smith also pointed his gun at a nurse, the sheriff saying "it's my understanding that she pleaded with him not to shoot her, that she had a baby."

Both of the victims were taken to a nearby hospital to treat their injuries, with one undergoing emergency surgery, the police release said. However, they have both since died.

Sheriff Smith told the local news station one of the victims was still healthy enough to be talking in the ambulance, adding that the first deputy to arrive at the crime scene gave a victim chest compressions until emergency medical personnel arrived.

"They did everything they could for him but he still didn't make it," he said.

In a statement sent to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Affordable Dentures & Implants said the clinic's members are "deeply saddened by this tragic incident and hold Dr. Burroughs and Dr. Sinclair and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers."

"Our immediate focus is on supporting our employees, our patients and the families of those impacted by this horrific event," the statement said. "We are grateful to law enforcement for their bravery and professionalism in the face of senseless violence and will do whatever we can to assist them. In the meantime, we request that the public please respect the privacy of those affected."

Update 03/17/22 3:05 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and a statement from Affordable Dentures & Implants.

Texas Man Arrested in Dentist Killings
A Texas man was arrested and charged with capital murder after allegedly shooting two dentists. Above, a man wearing handcuffs. Stock Image/Getty Images