COMMERCE, Texas - Documents released Thursday reveal more details about how police tracked down the suspect in a triple shooting on the Texas A&M Commerce campus.
Jacques Smith is charged with capital murder for the deaths of Deja and Abbaney Matts inside a dorm room at the university. Abbaney’s 2-year-old son was also injured in the shooting.
Police used surveillance video, witness statements, and cell phone records to place Smith in the dorm where the Matts sisters were murdered.
Just days after a fellow student were murdered in Pride Rock residence hall, students at Texas A&M Commerce are back in class.
“Just trying to get back in the routine of things,” freshman Landry Tyson said. “Real quiet. A lot of people went home and haven’t come back yet, and it’s just…nobody wants to go out, everyone’s just sort of chilling.”
Students are still coming to terms with the reality that Matts isn’t returning to class with them.
“I was just shocked that someone you just saw the other day isn’t here anymore and they’re gone now,” Tyson added.
According to the search warrant, investigators seized a phone, three 9-millimeter cartridge casings, and a pillow and pillowcase from the second-floor dorm room where the victims were found.
Detectives also noted there was no forced entry to the room, and the sisters may have known the shooter.
A search warrant affidavit states witnesses told investigators they saw a black man wearing a red hoodie leaving 19-year-old Deja Matts’ dorm shortly after they heard gunshots.
Surveillance cameras captured video of the suspect leaving the room just after the gunfire rang out and then running to a vehicle in the parking lot. The cameras captured the license plate of the car he left in, the affidavit states.
At the same time, investigators learned that 20-year-old Abbaney Matts had an active protective order against Smith because of a violent incident that happened in Garland last week.
Police said Smith was arrested for threatening to kill Abbaney with a knife and assaulting her with a box fan and frying pan after she tried to break up with him. He posted his $15,000 bond and was released from jail just days before the shooting.
The investigators showed the dorm room surveillance photos to the victims’ parents, who identified Smith as Abbaney’s ex-boyfriend.
Sisters Deja (left) and Abbaney Matts (right) were killed in Monday's shooting at Texas A&M Commerce. Deja was a student and Abbaney would visit often, according to family. Abbaney’s son was also shot in the leg but survived.
They used the license plate and vehicle registration records to find Smith’s address in Rowlett and then located the vehicle seen on the surveillance video parked outside that house, the affidavit states.
The search warrant allowed police to seize items from Smith’s home including knives, firearms and electronic devices. They were able to use cell phone records to place him in Commerce during the time of the murders, according to the document.
During the course of the investigation, investigators also found evidence at the Rowlett home that linked Smith to a third murder that happened in Denton on New Year’s Eve.
“Through the course of the investigation, just by skill, good luck, and the grace of God, these two cases intersected at the right time,” Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said.
Smith is now facing three capital murder charges. He’s being held in the Hunt County jail and this time his bond was set at $1 million.
It's not clear why the court gave him such a low bond amount after the Garland arrest despite his history of violence, with two prior aggravated robbery convictions that led to five years of probation.
Smith's Garland arrest was a violation of his probation. A warrant was issued but it was not issued until Friday, which was after he bonded out.
The university’s president released a safety action plan on Wednesday, which includes increasing university police patrols on campus and hiring more front desk staff to monitor residence halls 24 hours a day.
They hope to have many of the changes in place by the end of spring semester.