The hurt won’t go away anytime soon for those who knew Sergeant Lance McLean.
The 38-year-old Hood County Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy was struck by what proved to be a fatal gunshot wound to the head Friday while trying to protect a family in the Oak Trail Shores subdivision northwest of Granbury.
McLean was pronounced dead the next morning at John Peter Smith Hospital. Officials said that Ricky Don McCommas, 49, of Joshua, fired the shot that killed McLean. McCommas was killed minutes later in a shootout next to City Hall in Granbury.
“Everything stopped, and it was like just being in a fog,” said Captain Jerry East, a veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. “I actually heard a number of deputies describe it the same way.”
East and his wife, Gayle, were on their way out of state on a long vacation when he received a call about the horrific event when they were traveling in the Panhandle, just north of Childress. East’s wife drove them back as the captain began a series of phone calls concerning the loss of a beloved friend and co-worker.
Sheriff Roger Deeds said, “Lance was a great deputy and a great leader. I had big plans for him in this administration. He was going to be one of my upper management.”
East described McLean’s personal character as “impeccable” and said he was “always a gentleman.”
The tragedy was magnified because McLean had a wife and two young children. Both Quinton, 10, and Abby, 7, are special-needs children that had to have special attention from both their mother, Katy, and their dad.
“You couldn’t find a set of parents that loved their kids any more than they did,” East said. “They were loving parents.”
East said McLean was “a tall, lanky, good-natured, polite country boy, and he made us all proud. He had a wonderful smile that just made people feel better just to be around him.”
Last year when East’s mother died, McLean left a lasting impression on the captain when he volunteered his own time to serve as an honor guard at her funeral service. When Deeds started to thank him for that, McLean told him there was no need, stating, “This is what I want to do.”
McLean began working in law enforcement in Hamilton County as a jailer in 2004. He was promoted to a patrol deputy in 2006, but went to work for the Hood County Sheriff’s Office in July 2008. He returned to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to take a position as an investigator for then-newly elected Sheriff Gregg Bewley, but came back to work under Sheriff Deeds again in July of 2011.
Hico is the hometown of both McLean and his wife, so he drove the 40-plus miles to Granbury each work day.
He was “one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to be around,” Bewley said. “Lance wanted to be a police officer really, really bad. He did really outstanding work. Lance McLean was the kind of man who was very brave.
He was 6-4, 225, so he had a lot of command presence. You could have plugged Lance into any organization, and he was going to be successful.”
When McLean was rehired by Hood County, Deeds instantly made him a sergeant, and he was placed in charge of some deputy training. McLean also served as a member of the county/city SWAT team.
“Everyone respected him very much,” Deeds said. “He excelled in everything he did. He always did his job and took care of business.”
Deeds said McLean loved to go fishing, play golf and follow the Texas Rangers.
“He was a great guy, easy going and he took very good care of his family,” Deeds said. “(His wife Katy) is a very strong person. They were both strong-willed individuals that kept to themselves. What made them strong is taking care of their family.”
East said some of McLean’s closest friends in the department were temporarily pulled from their normal duties on the street because they couldn’t stay focused.
“Their hearts are broke because they knew him so well,” East said. “We all are.”
McLean was first taken by ambulance to Lake Granbury Medical Center, as medical personnel attempted to stabilize him before he was flown to JPS.
“We found out early that he was in gravely critical condition,” Deeds said. “Four times, his heart had stopped and they had to start CPR. In the middle of the afternoon, they stabilized him enough to do a CAT scan. Doctors told us up front they didn’t feel like he would probably live.”
McLean was placed on life-support machines at JPS, the sheriff stated.
“The next morning they did tests on his blood flow and if there was any brain activity,” Deeds said. “They found out he really didn’t have any brain activity. Then it was the decision of Katy’s to take him off life support. Doctors didn’t give much hope of anything really changing.”
McLean earned an official Hamilton County commendation from Bewley on April 13, 2011, for his actions at a residence in Hamilton while facing a man armed with a knife.
When McLean responded to the 911 call, the subject – who had a warrant out for his arrest – refused to show his identification and tried to assault the deputy.
The commendation reads, in part: “You reacted to his assault by containing his weapon hand and taking the suspect to the floor, immobilizing him. With assistance from the two witnesses the suspect was disarmed and arrested.
“In the best efforts of modern policing you responded to a situation and contained an individual who attempted to injure you and himself. Your training, experience and physical prowess served you well on this day.”
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