A Texas man shot his wife before turning the gun on himself early Sunday after an argument broke out on their way home from his 20th high school reunion, investigators said.
Officials with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reported that dispatchers received a 911 call just after midnight from Rachel Butler, who said her husband had shot her in the chest before shooting himself in the head at their Montgomery home. Jason Butler, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Rachel Butler told investigators that they attended her husband’s high school reunion Saturday night. According to Jason Butler’s Facebook page, he attended Klein Butler High School in Houston.
An argument began on the hour-long drive back to Montgomery, and the fight turned physical.
"Once they arrived home, the altercation continued, at which time Jason Butler retrieved a firearm from his vehicle and then shot Rachel Butler one time in the chest," Sheriff’s Office officials said. "According to Rachel Butler, Jason Butler then shot himself in the head in the front driveway of the residence."
The Houston Chronicle reported that the couple’s two children, ages 6 and 2, were with family members at the time of the shooting and did not witness it. Rachel Butler, 26, was listed as stable at Conroe Regional Hospital, where a friend told the Chronicle she would remain for at least a week.
Rachel Butler posted to Facebook Sunday evening from the hospital, where she remained in the intensive care unit. She said she was still having internal bleeding and trouble breathing.
From her hospital bed, she said she forgave her husband.
"The Jason I married was not the Jason who did (those things) last night," she wrote. "I hope and pray he is in heaven with his daddy, his uncle Doug and many more relatives."
She also requested prayers for her "sweet babies."
"Jason and I both knew what it was like to grow up with our fathers being taken from us," she wrote.
On Monday, she shared a photo of her husband and their children from 2015, shortly after their son was born. In the image, Jason Butler holds his son while his young daughter gives the baby a kiss.
"All negative comments about him can stop," Rachel Butler wrote. "This is how I want Jason to be remembered."
Jason Butler appeared happy and content four days before the attempted murder-suicide, when he posted a note thanking his loved ones for helping him celebrate his Nov. 8 birthday.
"I am truly a blessed man, and by God’s grace have people who touch me in such a way I can only thank him for leading me down whatever path he wants me to go on," Jason Butler wrote on Facebook. "You are all uniquely special to me. To my family, extended family and Rachel and my two awesome babies, I thank (you) for such a special (birthday) dinner. God bless all of you!"
The Chronicle reported, however, that court records include a divorce filing from about a month before the shooting in which Rachel Butler cited "discord or conflict of personalities." Friends of the couple said they had gone through rough times, but that Jason Butler seemed to be doing better.
"I will forever miss you, and never understand why you’re not here with us," a longtime friend, Danny Pechal, wrote on Facebook.
On Jason Butler’s birthday post, the comments went from statements of love and joy to those of bewilderment, pain, and from some people, ugliness.
"How do you go from this post to shooting your wife and then yourself?" one of the kinder comments read. "Prayers for all those involved."
"Jason, our hearts are breaking and we are grieving," another person wrote. "Praying for all your family. You just don’t know how much you are loved. RIP in God’s embrace, dear friend."
"May God let Rachel have a full recovery and (may he) have mercy on you," another woman wrote. "Thank God the kids still have one parent."
Some commenters wrote about how mental health issues are difficult to deal with, but a woman identifying herself as Jason Butler’s sister countered that he did not have mental health issues.
"(You) people do not know what has been going on," she wrote. "If (you) did not know my brother, then (you) should keep your insensitive comments to yourself and have some respect for the family."
Another commenter offered his sister her condolences on the family’s "immeasurable loss."
"Unfortunately, the coverage of this most unfortunate event has brought out the worst," the woman wrote. "I pray for healing for everyone involved."
A friend of Rachel Butler’s created a GoFundMe account to help her bridge the financial gap until she could return to the beauty salon she owns and manages. On Tuesday, the page reported donations of just under $900 in one day.