Gilmer man sentenced to life in prison for assault of police officers

Crime & Public Safety

UPSHUR COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A man was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to four first degree felony offenses of aggravated assault against police officers in East Texas.

According to a release from Upshur County, he had no prior criminal history or convictions.

Craig Harwart, 56, walked into a CEFCO gas station in Gilmer on Nov. 16, 2020, shortly after 1 a.m. and demanded that the attendant turn on the gas pumps. He then pointed a gun at her demanding that she turn on the pumps or he would shoot her, according to the Upshur County Criminal District Attorney Billy Byrd.

Harwart threw $20 on the counter before shooting 16 rounds into the ceiling. He then walked outside and began shooting at a customer inside a car at the gas pump, striking their vehicle multiple times.

Gilmer police arrived on the scene and traveled south on Highway 300 towards Longview. When the officer found the vehicle, he turned his police lights on and Harwart fired four shots at the officer before getting away.

About an hour later, Upshur County Deputy Josh Davis went to the address from the license plate and he was shot at and his vehicle was struck by a bullet from Harwart.

Harwart exchanged gunfire with the officers at the end of Green Hills Road in Upshur County where a barricade was set up. One bullet grazed the back of Upshur County Deputy Matt Sartor.

Longview SWAT also responded to the scene and were then able to take Harwart into custody after he was shot in the arm and leg, none of his injuries were life threatening and he recovered.

The Texas Rangers were called in to investigate the case and Harwart admitted to Ranger Chris Baggett that he committed the crimes because he was “mad.”

Judge Dean Fowler heard the case. The State was represented by District Attorney Billy Byrd and Harwart was represented by Craig Fletcher from Marshall.

“This sentence ensures that Craig Harwart has spent his last day of freedom on our streets. It serves as a reminder that this world is full of dangerous people and it takes brave officers willing to risk their lives to ensure others are safe,” said Byrd.

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