Gunfire erupted in southeast Dallas late Tuesday afternoon as police confronted four suspects at what neighbors said was an illegal drug house. An officer fatally shot one of the suspects during an extended foot chase.

The tense situation escalated when hundreds of people converged on the crime scene.

At a news conference Tuesday night, police Chief David Brown said when three officers surrounded the house in the 5300 block of Borquin Street responding to a 911 kidnapping call, four people ran from the residence from the front door and from windows.

Brown said veteran Officer Brian Rowden began a foot pursuit of 31-year-old James Harper. Brown said the two engaged in three separate “physical fights” as the suspect ran down an alley and hopped over three fences.

“After jumping the third fence after Harper, Officer Rowden was basically out of energy and just clinging to Harper, who was beating on him,” Chief Brown said. “Officer Rowden states at this time Harper said, ‘You’re gonna have to kill me.’”

Chief Brown said the officer, fearing for his life, pulled his weapon and shot Harper in the stomach and the hand. The chief said Harper has a long criminal history.

Brown said no weapon was found on Harper, and that there was no evidence that any of the officers had been fired upon. He said it was not clear why the officer did not use a Taser or other non-lethal weapon to subdue Harper.

Officer Rowden was shaken up but was not seriously hurt, Brown said.

One other suspect surrendered and Brown said police confiscated cash and crack cocaine from the property. While the first officers at the scene said they had seen a handgun on a table inside the residence, no weapon was recovered.

Chief Brown urged any witnesses to come forward with information about what they saw.

The incident triggered emotional outbursts from a number of onlookers.

Sandra Harper, who identified herself as the mother of James Harper, claimed her 31-year-old had been shot in the back. Chief Brown said the medical examiner would make that determination.

“My son didn’t have no gun, whatever the police said,” Mrs. Harper said.

The crowd was urged to move to a nearby church to attend a community meeting to discuss what happened. Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway was at the scene to gather facts.

“This is beyond Southeast, this is the Dallas Police Department and the City of Dallas,” Caraway said. “The police are moving and doing what they need to do to clear the neighborhood so we can bring peace.”

Caraway said the victim’s family is cooperating. “This is a very volatile situation, and it if not handled right, it could escalate into something that it should not,” he said.

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