The man Houston police fatally shot after an hour long chase Tuesday had shown a card identifying him as a CIA employee to officers who stopped him earlier for speeding, authorities said Wednesday.
“He (the officer) did not know what federal credentials looked like,” said Capt. Steve Jett, with Houston Police Department’s homicide division. “They look authentic, but you can do a lot of things with a computer.”
Officers shot and killed 52-year-old Roland Vincent Carnaby, saying they feared for their lives when he reached under the seat of his Jeep sport utility vehicle after the chase had ended and he’d gotten out of his car.
The shiny object that Carnaby was apparently reaching for was a personal assistant-cellular phone, Jett said Wednesday.
Officers found three weapons inside the Jeep after it was impounded. One pistol was under the passenger-side floor mat while a second was between the seats. A pistol-grip shotgun was on the floor board of the back seat.
“We believe they are all legal,” Jett said. “We have no reason to believe he didn’t own them.”
Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt also reiterated that he had no connection — personal or professional — with Carnaby.
“I didn’t recall his name or realize who he was until I saw his photo” on the news, Hurtt said.
A photograph of the two men was taken at an HPD ball within the last year or so, Hurtt said.
“I’ve taken pictures with probably another thousand Houstonians in the last four years,” Hurtt said.
Who Carnaby was remains a mystery to many.
He held himself out as a federal intelligence agent but was sometimes cagey about his precise job and employer. At times he mentioned the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Security. He was the president of the local chapter of the Association for Intelligence Officers, a legitimate national organization whose board contains luminaries such as former President George H.W. Bush. Friends said they have seen him in the company socially of local law enforcement officials and high-level CIA bureaucrats.
CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said that Carnaby was not employed by the agency.
“While we do not as a rule publicly deny or confirm employment, I will tell you in this case that Mr. Carnaby was not an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Gimigliano said. “He was never a CIA officer.”
Wife: He worked for CIA for 30 years
Susan Carnaby said her husband has worked for the agency for 30 years.
He often travelled overseas, leaving for months at a time. If he was in Washington, he would tell her, but most of the time she had no idea where he had gone, she said. It was top secret, he told her.
“Just tried to keep myself busy as much as I can,” she said Wednesday. “Obviously he’d tell me who he worked for but he never could talk to me about the cases that he did. But that was for my own protection. I really didn’t want to know.”
Carnaby described her husband as a patriot.
“He just loved his country,” she said. “I think that’s his main motivation. He’s just very devoted to it and he enjoyed what he did. I guess it made him feel important.”
The last time she saw him was in March, she said. They kept in touch regularly by e-mail and phone.
That government officials deny her husband worked for the CIA or the FBI doesn’t surprise her.
“No, because why would they even admit it?” she said. “How many cases could that blow? I think that’s not their policy to make comments on that type of thing. Roland always told me that if anything ever happened to him don’t expect anyone to stand up and say that’s what he did for a living. They keep these things undercover for a reason.”
Car dealer’s close friend
Car dealer Alan Helfman met Carnaby more than a decade ago when “a mutual friend high in law enforcement” brought him by the dealership. “He bought eight or nine cars from me over the years,” Helfman said.
Carnaby told Helfman he was a federal officer who worked in intelligence. The two men struck up a close friendship.
“He was always teasing me about being a reserve constable,” said Helfman, who volunteers for Harris County Precinct 7.
Friends insist Carnaby was very much who he said he was, even if he was less than specific about his duties. One recalled a recent party in Washington that they both attended for retired intelligence agents.
‘A blank page’
“Most of what he does is so classified that regular homicide (detectives) will come up with a blank page and then a question about why you are asking,” said Fred Platt, the vice president of the local chapter of intelligence agents. “He’s here because of homeland security. The port and the airport. He knows everybody on the command staff of every agency.”
Local law enforcement officials, however, say they don’t know him, including Hurtt and Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas. The local FBI office also claims to have no knowledge of him.
Carnaby traveled frequently for work, Helfman said, but whenever he was in Houston, he visited the dealership on a daily basis. Helfman said Carnaby spoke seven languages and always carried an arsenal of weapons, including several guns and a knife.
“He was always showing me his knife tricks,” he said. “He was real good at karate, too.”
Carnaby was tight-lipped about his work and his private life, and Helfman said he didn’t question him.
“His entire life has always been clandestine. His girlfriends didn’t even know what he was doing,” Helfman said.
Even mundane details of Carnaby’s life were tinged with mystery. His address listed with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is a private mailbox at a UPS Store near downtown. The address at which he registered his Jeep Commander was a different UPS Store in Pearland.
Whatever his real story, Carnaby’s life came to an end about 11 a.m. Tuesday after police forced his vehicle to a stop. He didn’t acknowledge the officers who encircled him with guns drawn. And he “refused to put his hands where the officers could see him,” said Houston Police Sgt. John Chomiak.
“The driver refused to comply, talk or roll down the window,” Chomiak said.
He opened the driver’s side door only after one of the officers smashed the passenger-side window, police said.
“He stepped out of his vehicle, turned around and reached under the seat,” Chomiak said.
When he did, two officers each fired one time, authorities said. The officers were identified by police officials as HPD Sgt. A.J. Washington and officer C.A. Foster. Carnaby was later pronounced dead at Ben Taub Hospital.
The incident lasted most of an hour. It began with a routine traffic stop when Carnaby was pulled over for speeding along Texas 288 near Orem. Carnaby raced away after the officers learned he had a license to carry a concealed weapon, police said.
With the officers in close pursuit, the Jeep raced north along the South Freeway, with speeds reaching 120 mph toward downtown Houston before heading west on the Katy Freeway. Carnaby then headed south along the West Loop, exiting at Woodway where the chase finally came to an end.
Harris County medical examiners said the autopsy probably would be performed Wednesday.
Washington, a 22-year HPD veteran, and Foster, who has been on the force for about 15 years, later told investigators they fired because they were in fear for their safety, police said.
Police said the shooting was apparently captured by the dashboard cameras of the HPD patrol cars.
Carnaby slumped to the ground after the officers began firing. He was motionless when they placed him in handcuffs.
‘This doesn’t smell right’
The frontage road was closed for several hours Tuesday as investigators questioned the officers behind long lines of crime scene tape.
“What’s going on?” a passing motorist shouted out as he crawled along the clogged West Loop.
That’s the question his friends want answered. They say Carnaby had no reason to run or disobey police.
Platt said he had dined with Carnaby both Saturday and Sunday and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Carnaby was engaged to be married, he said, and led a happy life.
“I can’t fathom any reason why he would be running from the police because he is the police,” Platt said. “This doesn’t make any sense. I can’t understand him running or why they opened up on him. This doesn’t smell right.”