Authorities: Suspect admits using firearm of Burnet County constable

FROM STAFF REPORTS

GARRETT BALLARD

GARRETT BALLARD

BURNET — The suspect in a Burnet County double homicide apparently used a law enforcement officer’s rifle in the alleged murder of two men at a residence Aug. 19.

The suspect, identified as Garrett James Ballard, 21, is the son of Burnet County Precinct 3 Constable Jimmy Ballard, according to Burnet County Sheriff W.T. Smith.

Burnet County deputies and the Texas Rangers charged Garrett Ballard with the murder of Elijah Adam Benson, 17, and Travis Leslie Fox, 26, after the three men allegedly used hallucinogenic drugs, according to an arrest warrant affidavit sworn out by Investigator Robert Clark and signed by Burnet County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Calvin Boyd.

Burnet County deputies responded to a residence in the 5800 block of CR 340 at 6:16 a.m. Aug. 19 where they discovered the bodies of Benson and Fox. Smith said both men suffered from what appeared to be gunshot wounds. He added that investigators had recovered the suspected weapon — a rifle — at the scene.

According to the affidavit, Garrett Ballard told investigators he, Benson and Fox wanted to celebrate a birthday on Aug. 18 and at sometime purchased some “acid” from another acquaintance. Then the three went to the suspect’s residence to use the drugs.

Garrett Ballard told investigators “that as the narcotic hallucinogen took affect, strange and disruptive behaviors were exhibited by Fox and Benson,” according to the affidavit.

At some point, the suspect got the keys to his father’s patrol unit and retrieved the .223-caliber rifle from it and then loaded it, the affidavit stated. As he stood by the patrol unit with Benson nearby, Garrett Ballard told investigators Fox came out of the house “exhibiting erratic behavior.” Garrett Ballard then shot Fox, according to the affidavit.

Benson apparently began losing control at this time due to the unfolding situation. Garrett Ballard told investigators that, “for unknown reasons,” he aimed the rifle at Benson and shot him, according to the affidavit.

The suspect told Clark and Texas Ranger Jason Bobo that he then left the residence and went to his girlfriend’s home and told her what happened. The suspect also contacted his sister and spoke with her husband, who is also a police officer. He then told investigators he did contact his mother and father, according to the affidavit.

Officers booked Garrett Ballard into the Burnet County Jail on a charge of capital murder of multiple persons.

The Burnet County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation with assistance from the Burnet Police Department, the Texas Rangers, the 33rd/424th District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab.

editor@thepicayune.com

30 Responses to “Authorities: Suspect admits using firearm of Burnet County constable”

  1. Maria Sanchez says:

    It is so sad what people do when under the influence of drug. I moved here to Burnet in 2000 to enjoy the quiet and safe small town for my family I moved here from loud SAN Angelo Texas where drug and violence was already put of control.

  2. thomas fox says:

    What I want to know is ! How does a man under the influences of anything gain access to a law enforcement officer s weapon ? How secure is a weapon in these vehicles anyway. And why aren’t charges being filed for this officer who was carless in keeping his weapons secured . By Victims brother

    • John Warner says:

      Leaving a rifle locked in a vehicle is not unlawful. Everyone involved was of age. Don’t go blaming the parties who weren’t even involved for these kids mistakes. Where were you? Why didn’t you help stop him from buying the drugs? Why didn’t your parents raise him better? Why didn’t the boys know better?

      Its their own faults for their actions. Quit trying to place blame.

      • MRS S says:

        What i also want to know is not how this person gained entrance to a what should have been a locked police cruiser and took the gun, shot the gun, and no one heard the shot, and where exactly was the police officer that owns the car. And how often were drugs being used in his home? Any answers are welcomed

        • MrsJ says:

          The reason that no one heard the shots could have had something to do with either the hour that it happened or the fact that it wasn’t inside the city limits. As for the officer responsible for the cruiser and it’s contents was not there at the time and was unaware of what was happening in his home when he wasn’t there. As a cops kid myself I can tell you that they do not always know and are not always in control of what their children do, even in their own homes. The blame has to be placed where it belongs here and not on scapegoats.

      • MRS S says:

        yes all of age but one the 17 yr old not of age, Its obvious none of them were using good judgement. But lets not make this a less sever action just because drugs were involved. It is the kids decisions and the parents and family are paying the price for their actions, all of them however certain answers are needed.

      • Megan Marie says:

        How can you tell his brother not to place blame on parties that weren’t involved, but then be hypocritical and say the victims’ parents should have raised them better? Or where was he? That’s clearly placing blame! At the end of the day, the suspect or murderer I should say, should NOT have had access to the keys of that vehicle, nor should he have felt the right to take two people’s lives. The victims deserve to rest in peace, not be bad mouthed about their possible decisions. &How dare you talk to a victims family member so harsh in a time like this, Shame on you.

        Rest in peace, Travis and Elijah.

      • Kim Benson says:

        Not everyone involved was of age. Eli Benson was only 17 and according to suspect was freaking out about the unfolding scenario. My heart goes out to my family and loved one in a truly heartbreaking loss!Heaven has a treasure that left Earth to soon.

      • ella Hernandez says:

        knowing eli,all i can say is yes some wrong choices were made but life works in mysterious ways. you insist for the blame to stop yet who are you to question the choices of an adolescent? R.i.p. eli

    • Deana Rouse says:

      So sorry about your brother. I am Eli’s 2nd cousin. I know you have to be very upset and you want justice. Your questions and your feelings are very valid. Prayers to you and your family during this very tough time.

    • T. McElroy says:

      Why weren’t the keys in the lock box that the officers gun is locked in? There is no excuse for his keys to his patrol unit to be readily accessable to ANYONE.

  3. MRS S says:

    can someone tell me why the story keeps changing? After all they are dead and the other boy going to jail. All these lives are forever changed! just tell the truth
    PLEASE!

  4. MRS S says:

    Tell me again, who exhibited “strange and disruptive behavior” as stated by Garrett Ballard. Who admitted to also taking acid. Yea I thought so… the one with the gun obtained from a supposed locked police car. Garrett Ballard PLEASE if you can remember tell the truth we know you are the last man standing, You are going to jail just tell us what happened, tell us the real story! Nobody is interested in politics. All families involved are paying the price, so don’t insult us. PLEASE Burnet someone stand-up!!!!

  5. Mrs SS says:

    Horribly sad when senseless loss of life occurs. I hate to state the obvious, but what a loser he looks like & this is a constable’s kid? Parents are really crappy at their jobs these days. It’s a fact. Look at society.

  6. Concerned Community Member says:

    Why is it bad parenting? Do you have children Mrs SS? If you do, do know what your child is doing every second of every day? As a mother, I can only hope that the values I have tried to instill into my chidren will stay with them at all times and they too do not relent to peer pressure. You do not know how these boys were raised so how can sit and pass judgement on them? How do you know if they did this did drugs regularly or if this was the first time it had happened? I too have tattoos have I have never in my almost 50 years tried any type of drug. Just because someone does not look the way you think they should does not mean they are losers. They young man is just that a young man and not a child. As for all the comments about the father being a constable and his patrol vehicle, unless things have changes, the county does not provide anything for the constables, all their equipment is just that it is theirs. When the parents went out of town and left their grown child alone, they did nothing wrong. They trusted that grown child to make the best decisions he could and not knowing the complete and accurate story, no one should pass judgement on anyone involved. We need to be more supportive as a community as a whole.

  7. Deana Rouse says:

    This is a senseless tragedy. People are upset. Please respect the families of Eli and Travis and remember your words are out here for us all to see. Eli was a good kid. Good kids sometimes get caught up in situations that can turn bad at any moment. So many of us could have had the same fate. Rest well sweet boy, your Houston family loves you very much.

  8. mike says:

    UMMM, maybe this is why police SHOULDN’T take vehicles home with them..
    Especially if there are firearms in them!!!!!

  9. thomas fox says:

    Let us all not confuse opinion with fact.the reality is this is a tragedy, now what can we all do to keep this from happening again . And all take responsibility for our own actions ! nothing will change this reality. The facts so often get blurred by emotion .I am more outraged by the fact that no one wants to admit when they are at fault, and anyone who knows me that I will not keep quiet about this and I will continue to question why and how this can happen not just to my brother ! But anyone at all! tell us the truth…

  10. Heartbroken says:

    As a close friend to the Ballard family, and seeing Garrett grow up, I feel the need to make a comment. He grew up in a normal, secure family full of love, and his parents did an excellent job raising him. I feel terrible for the inexplicable pain the families of the victims are, and will forever, have to bear. But the Ballards are having to grieve over their sons actions, as well as the lives lost in their home. All the families involved need privacy at this most difficult time. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain.

  11. zelda says:

    this is all very sad for all

  12. Patrick McGuire says:

    Tattoos on your face? Sorry, that doesn’t cut it in my opinion. You don’t want to be judged? 1. Don’t put tattoos on your face. This scenario doesn’t sound like a typical acid trip to me. Violence and acid? Never heard of such a thing.

  13. NotFoolingAnyone says:

    Has anyone considered that this person is using drug intoxication as a convenient excuse for the premeditated murder of the other two.
    Bet the toxicology reports will show no drugs at all.
    And all we have is a confessed murderer’s “story”.

    God please let me be on his jury…

  14. puppyfoot says:

    Only the killer is responsible for his actions but that does not negate the fact that the keys to the car should have been in the constable’s pocket, not lying around for a civilian to pick up. What if killer and victims had soberly gone to a movie and some other criminal broke in and got the keys/patrol car/guns? NOT okay for the Constable to leave an untrained civilian responsible for a government patrol car and its contents. RIP Elijah and Travis. God bless the families. I’m so sad this happened in my town.

  15. MRS S says:

    I too am very curious to the reports of the two young men that lost their lives to the only one who apparently was acting irrational, what does the autopsy reports say? Why have all the news stopped? Why was the patrol car left where as reported the officer in charge was supposed not to reside? Too many questions not enough answers… Elijah and Travis are the victims of an unecessary crime. Im deeply saddened for these family’s hearts are breaking and the parents of the suspect. God calls his children home as it is written, they are safe in the arms of the Lord. Travis you will forever have left a mark on this world. Rest in the arms of Jesus

  16. n says:

    LSD caused a lot of deaths in the 60’s. It is a hallucinogen and you don’t ever know how someone will react to it. This was a stupid senseless tragedy and it is being investigated. Wait for the rest of the facts. My guess is the differences in the story has more To do with how the news reporters tell the story than a change in the story. This should never have happened. It is human nature to try to find someone to blame. I have a lot of questions, but until the investigation is over, we can’t know the facts.

  17. n says:

    LSD caused a lot of deaths in the 60’s. It is a hallucinogen and you don’t ever know how someone will react to it. This was a stupid senseless tragedy and it is being investigated. Wait for the rest of the facts. My guess is the differences in the story has more To do with how the news reporters tell the story than a change in the story. This should never have happened. It is human nature to try to find someone to blame. I have a lot of questions, but until the investigation is over, we can’t know the fact.
    What we should be asking is. “What has happened to our sleepy little town?” Drugs are becoming a huge problem. My daughter graduated a few yrs ago. She hated drugs, but the reality was, most of her friends drank alcohol and/or used drugs. Marijuana was where they usually started. I remember ask if Geraint some of the kids in her class I remembered from elem who were from good families. I was shocked when she told me about them using drugs. Drugs are a major problem in Burnet. We need to work on cleaning up Burnet. When I asked my daughter why drugs are so bad, she told me because there is nothing to do in Burnet. I don’t know, but this isn’t the town I grew up in.

  18. concerned says:

    i knowing the families in question also am asking questions but we cant go by hear say! We cant believe everything we hear,like the other reader says we do not have all the facts yet so everyone needs to stop judging. Eli was a child of god an worshiped his savior greatly….there is no evidence that the two boys were using drugs,Garrett is trying to protect himself in my opinion. An as far as blame the father he should be responsible as a constable he used of known better to leave keys in accessible to anyone. Garrett did have issues of depression an if his parents did such a wonderful upbringing they would of known of his problems in life. Why doesnt anyone question Garrett’s girlfriend, he told her everything ( my opinion) Rest in peace in the lords arms Eli an Travis, you are greatly missed

  19. family says:

    Yes,all 3 families are suffering. All we have is the account of the young man charged with double homicide after being filtered through 2 police officers that he was related to. This is a terrible tragedy. You have to wonder if he did not have access to the police issued rifle,would this crime have happened at all? We probably never will know the facts behind what really happened. I hope that the loss of these 2 amazing souls will bring about change, community and accountability to the small town of Burnet. Let their memories live on.

  20. Elaine says:

    The keys to the “taxpayers” police car should not have been in a place where anyone could get them except the police officer. Period. That was what caused the murder…not just taking acid. Actions should be taken against the police officer for letting someone get into the “taxpayers” police car. These officers taking these “taxpayers” property home needs to stop. Let them drive their own car to and from work like everyone else. Sad this happened because of it.

  21. Timothy Fox says:

    I have a hundred questions. There is little information, except from the newspaper online. I am Travis Fox’s oldest brother and live up in Minnesota. Sadly I did not get to grow up with him. My father, USAF Ret. Msgt. Harry Fox, Jr. and his first wife, Karen, had 3 children: Timothy(Me), Sheila, and Thomas.We grew up on military bases all over the US. My father served 20 years in the US Air Force. We had a strict military and Christian upbringing. Then Dad retired in North Dakota.Our parents divorced,and my mother died a few years later of cancer. My father married a second time, to Travis’s mother. They were only together 5 years, Travis Fox was born at the end of that time, and then they divorced. When Travis came into the world I was 25 years old and had already moved to Minnesota. Travis was a baby when his mother, and her 2 older sons left Wisconsin, then briefly lived in California, and then moved down to Burnet, Texas. My father married a 3rd time, and had another son, Steven, who was born 5 years after Travis, and Steven’s Mom and my Dad raised him in Wisconsin. Some of us siblings were adults while the others were just going through childhood. I organized a family reunion in 2012 and we all met together, our sister coming in from South Carolina, Steven and our Dad from Wisconsin, and Travis up from Texas. We all met in Minneapolis. Dad turned 75, I turned 50, and Travis was turning 25 in October of that year. (Me, my sister, and Travis were all born in October.) It was a great reunion of my father’s side of the family. Travis had grown up with his mother, and his two older brothers (from his mom’s first marriage) far away from us in Texas. Travis spent all of his time with his other 2 brothers on his mom’s side, they knew him best. So Travis had a whole different life experience than I did. I only knew Travis from cards and school pictures, and phone calls and a few visits when we were older. But he was always kind and straightforward, sincere and honest, with a quick smile. My other brother Tom and I and Travis all played guitar, and were artists. It was in our DNA even though we grew up worlds apart. That reunion, last June of 2012, I always thought we had so much time, so much more time to get to know each other as men, and we wanted to meet more after that and get to know each other more. I gave him a baby albulm I had kept for him all those years before. He was a great guy. I am shocked and deeply saddened. My last memory is the newspaper account of his murder, and I have nightmares and see him being shot over and over. My heart is sick with grief. I seek memories of the past, his smiling face. I seek God in prayer for peace to erase the memory of his death. I do not want to remember that horrific death. I have one picture of him, smiling, from our last meeting, and that is the way I want to remember him. I am sorry for the loss of the other boy, Elijah Benson too. My heart goes out to his family. Travis had over 400 friends and family on Facebook. Elijah Benson’s memorial at the high school sounds like several hundred were there too. That is about 1000 people affected by these murders. One thousand friends and family. This Garret Ballard did so much more damage than just brutally killing 2 people. One thousand people are living in shock and grief all over the United States. Garret Ballard took away my chance to have a future with my brother Travis,and I will never get to have that time with Travis again. What a horrible thing that the Ballad family is going through too. I think that they need prayer just as much as Elijah Benson’s and Travis Fox’s family. Pray for Burnet, Texas, and for healing in the hearts of all those touched by this tragedy. Pray for a healing and revival of living Christian core values. Pray for the eviction of demonic illusion of drugs and demonic violence. Pray that God will heal the city of Burnet. Pray for the healing of the police department. I do not think that Travis (or Elijah) were on drugs. Travis was taking care of his disabled mother, and had to get up early the next morning for work at the landscaping company that I read that he worked at, he would not have “done drugs” the night before, in my opinion. Something about all of this just does not make sense. He certainly did not do anything to deserve to be murdered. Yes, there will be a trial, and there will be anger,and we are to wait for the facts in the trial, not just the newspaper accounts. But for now, I still hurt, and pray to Jesus just to get through the day. God, bring forgiveness to my heart. God, please bring healing to this tragedy, and let Your love and grace and mercy fall on the city of Burnet, Texas.

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