Suspect Identified in Fatal Shooting of George H.W. Bush’s Heart Doctor; His Mother Was a Patient Who Died On the Operating Table 20 Years Ago

Houston PD is seeking Joseph James Pappas as the suspect in the murder of Dr. Hausknecht, cardiologist in Houston. (NBC News)
Houston PD is seeking Joseph James Pappas as the suspect in the murder of Dr. Hausknecht, cardiologist in Houston. (NBC News)

The man suspected of killing President George H.W. Bush’s former cardiologist may have targeted the surgeon because his mother had died on the operating table two decades ago, police said Wednesday.

A manhunt is underway for the suspect, Joseph James Pappas, 65, who is accused of shooting Mark Hausknecht, 65, on July 20, police said. Pappas is armed, dangerous and potentially suicidal, authorities said.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said that authorities have an arrest warrant for Pappas, who is believed to have targeted Hausknecht for the death of his mother.

“There was a lot of planning that went into this. There was a lot of planning and, sadly, some skill,” Acevedo said.

Pappas appears to be suicidal based on text messages that he had sent and the police department’s investigation, Acevedo said.

Acevedo said that a tip came into the police chief’s office on Tuesday. That tip led them to gaining an arrest warrant.

Police were able to identify Pappas, “thanks to the fact that we have a community that’s cooperative, that is a partner, that understands that they have a responsibility to play a huge role in keeping our neighborhoods safe,” the chief said.

Acevedo explained that residents close to the shooting examined their home security video, and police were able to obtain an image on Monday that led to Pappas’s identification through additional tips.

One tip seems to support the police department’s theory that Hausknecht was targeted: Pappas’s mother was once Hausknecht’s patient and died during surgery more than 20 years ago.

“So it appears that this might be a 20-year-old grudge,” Acevedo said.

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SOURCE: Phil McCausland 
NBC News