Within twelve hours of a fatal shooting, Grimes County Sheriffs Office arrested 57-year-old alleged murder suspect, James Allen Bundage of Plantersville, without incident, near the scene of the crime. An initial dispute over Bundage’s bulldog crossing the fence line onto his neighbor’s property left 55-year-old victim, Patrick David McHale Sr., dead, lying outside his own barn off CR 359 near Plantersville.
A probable cause statement reveals that McHale made the initial 911 call at 10:55 a.m., after Bundage allegedly threatened his wife Michele “by making a motion with his hand/finger (gun finger), pointing it towards her.”
The alleged threat was made after McHale warned Bundage to keep his bulldogs off of his property, as he was spreading rat poison around his barns. McHale told Deputy Mike Bewley, who arrived on scene at about 11:35 a.m., that Bundage screamed and cursed at McHale before making the threatening gesture towards his wife. McHale also warned that Bundage had a weapon and had been arrested several times before.
Since Bundage was nowhere to be found, Deputy Bewley advised McHale to immediately call 911 if Bundage returned.
A second 911 call was received at 12:21 p.m., and ended abruptly, as Dispatcher Randi Farquhar heard yelling and screaming in the background and the victim repeatedly said, “James, I’m trying to be nice to you,” just before a male – later identified by McHale’s 37-year-old daughter, Jessica Waldroup, as Bundage – told McHale, “I’m tired of the ****ing hating.”
After McHale repeatedly said, “Go home,” a shot was heard and the phone line went dead, according to the PC statement.
Deputy Bewley returned to the McHale residence eleven minutes after the call was made, and found McHale dead at the scene, lying on the ground near his dog kennels, outside his barn, with what appeared to be a possible gunshot wound to the head.
Once the buildings on the property and the suspect’s nearby home were cleared, a ground search for the suspect ensued with the help of outside agencies, including District Attorney’s Office Investigator Travis Higginbotham and Navasota Police Department Investigator Mike Mize; K-9 units and horses from the local prisons; Texas Rangers Chris Clark of Bryan and Jeff Wolf of Brenham; and Department of Public Safety troopers, along with a DPS helicopter. The U.S. Marshals were also contacted, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Bryan. St. Joseph EMS was also on scene.
Monday afternoon, Sheriff Don Sowell said the suspect - who has a history of assault and was previously arrested for deadly conduct with a weapon against a family member – was said to be possibly armed, as the weapon had not yet been located.
“We’re assuming he is armed and dangerous,” the sheriff said previously.
In the meantime, law enforcement worked on identifying and tracking cell phone numbers and attempting to pinpoint the geographical location of the suspect, but the alleged suspect never made any calls from a cell phone.
Sheriff Sowell said after a twelve-hour search – made in collaboration with other local law enforcement agencies after the murder suspect fled the scene in a 2010 black Toyota Corolla – Bundage was taken into custody at 12:05 a.m., as he attempted to walk back to his home, adjacent to the crime scene, where Capt. Blake Jarvis said he was caught off guard by deputies stationed at the crime scene, including Cpl. Theo Galvan, Swank Backhus, Blake Baldobino and Steve Syracusa; along with Department of Public Safety Troopers, Richard Cook and William Kettler.
Bundage was taken into custody without incident, carrying the alleged murder weapon, which is a rifle he owns.
“He was caught off guard, as we had guys posted there all evening, and deputies searched the area,” said Capt. Jarvis. “There was a lot of good teamwork between law enforcement that ended in a peaceful resolution to a sad situation.”
Sheriff Sowell added, “It’s an excellent example of cooperation between law enforcement. We kept the pressure on and due diligence through the night paid off.”
Capt. Jarvis said the getaway car was discovered “hidden from view on a dirt road, in a wooded area with tall grass.” Additional evidence is being collected from the vehicle, as well as the crime scene.
“He was arrested and we got a statement from him,” said Capt. Jarvis. “It started over the suspect’s dog crossing the fence line, but it (dispute)’s been ongoing for years.”
The two men had been neighbors for approximately eight years. McHale owned a hunting dog training facility located on his property and Bundage is a retired mechanic who previously worked for the City of Houston Police Department and Grimes County’s Road and Bridge Department.
previous arrests and complaints
Bundage is being charged with murder, a first-degree felony, and remains in jail with a $250,000 bond set by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Joe Imhoff.
Bundage has two previous arrests for deadly conduct, on Aug. 31, 2009, and Aug. 28, 2011. He bonded out the same day he was arrested for the Class A misdemeanors, with a $2,500 bond and $1,500 bond, respectively.
Though Sheriff Sowell was relieved when the alleged suspect was apprehended early Tuesday morning, he said this wasn’t the first time deputies were called to the residence because of a dispute between the two neighbors. But this time, neighbors and family members of the victim told deputies they heard a “pop,” and became concerned.
The PC statement, completed by Investigator Higginbotham, shows McHale began making complaints about Bundage allegedly shooting guns near his residence and making threats to shoot McHale’s dogs in 2004.
In August 2009, Clint McHale reported that Bundage was leaning against McHale’s fence pointing a gun at him.
In August 2011, McHale told deputies Bundage “cut his water hose and was on Bundage’s property walking around with a shotgun.” McHale also claimed Bundage threatened to shoot his family months before.
The suspect’s family members, who live in Houston and previously met McHale, arrived in Grimes County at approximately 10 p.m., on Monday, as they offered full cooperation with investigators and extended their sympathy to the victim’s family.
Sheriff Sowell said, “This sad incident didn’t have to happen. Nothing justifies using deadly force over a verbal confrontation. And it’s a permanent loss to the family.”
Waldroup said it is also a loss to the community, as McHale “was well known in the community, as a professional dog trainer and person who always helped out local charities.”
McHale was a staunch supporter of the Plantersville-Stoneham Bunch, Poor Boys, Plantersville Volunteer Fire Department, and Grimes County Fair Association.
“If you knew dad, he was always in a cowboy hat and shorts because he was a dog trainer,” said his daughter, who also lived on the McHale property. “And he never had an enemy because everyone loved dad. He was a friend, father, mentor – someone you looked up to. It happened so suddenly, it’s killing us all.”
McHale also leaves behind a 33-year-old son, named David; and two grandchildren, ages eleven and seventeen.
Waldroup said her father would be remembered for his contagious laugh and witty sense of humor.
Plantersville resident Angel Garcia, who has known McHale for the last seven years, agreed, and said the victim would be greatly missed by the community, as he was known for making people smile.
“He was a very good man. He always had a smile on his face, was always laughing and joked with you,” said Garcia. “You could ask him anything about a dog, and he always had answers. No matter where he was - at church, the store or wherever - he would talk to you, joke with you and make you smile. A good man…so sad.”
McHale’s body has been sent to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office and preliminary autopsy results are expected to be returned sometime today.
A Pat McHale Memorial Fund has been set up to help the family with costs. In lieu of flowers, send donations to First National Bank of Anderson PO BOX 159 Anderson,TX 77830.
Funeral arrangements are pending at Lindley-Robertson-Holt Funeral Home in Navasota.
More details will be revealed as they become available on The Examiner Website at www.navasotaexaminer.com and on the Navasota Examiner Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Navasota-Examiner/80394749022?ref=ts.