Shooting in Willis – Man says he mistook wife for intruder

NORTH MONTGOMERY COUNTY- A Willis man told police he believed his wife was an intruder when he fired multiple shots at her as she walked toward their master bedroom in the early hours of Tuesday.

Detective Mike Landrum, with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit said the explanation given by the husband appears to be true.

It was a little before 2 a.m. when 25-year-old Justin Hanel dialed 911 and reported that he accidentally shot his wife, 27-year-old Sarah Hanel in their home in the 9000 block of Zapata Way.

Medics transported Sarah Hanel from the Texas National subdivision to a nearby landing zone, where she was loaded into a medical helicopter and transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

“Justin Hanel reported that he was awakened by odd noises in his home and thought he observed an intruder,” Landrum said. “He retrieved a firearm and fired multiple times at the intruder.”

“He discovered a short time later the person he’d shot was his wife.”

The shots were fired from a handgun. Contrary to preliminary reports, only one bullet struck Sarah Hanel in the chest, Landrum said.

A Tuesday afternoon MCSO press release stated deputies arrived to find Justin Hanel treating his wife in the master bathroom.

Justin Hanel was not arrested.

“The shooting is believed to be accidental,” Landrum said. “We’re continuing to investigate to correlate the evidence with the husband’s story and that will continue until we have the opportunity to speak with his wife.”

Sarah Hanel is a 2000 graduate of Magnolia High School and graduated from Texas A&M in 2005.

Justin Hanel is a 2002 graduate of T. H. Yoe High School in Cameron and a 2006 graduate of the University of Texas El Paso.

They were married on August 11, 2007.

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