W.T. Harris welcomed a visitor to the RV park he owns on U.S. Highway 183, about a mile north of the Brownwood airport and quietly nestled in a bucolic setting.
Harris' dog, a large, fluffy Australian shepherd female named Peaches, was equally welcoming. Harris explained that someone had "dumped" the dog at the RV park when she was a puppy, and Harris adopted her.
Harris, 72, gestured toward three camping trailers and single motorhome parked there and briefly described each of the owners: a truck driver, a representative of a pipeline company, a retired man and a welder.
The welder — that would be Vic Stacy, the man who, with an Early police officer, exchanged gunfire with Charles Conner, killing him, on the afternoon of July 29. Conner, a resident of the park, had already shot and killed two other park residents.
Harris knows any follow-up news articles about the Peach Tree RV park can't avoid mentioning "the incident," as Harris often refers to the triple-fatality shooting that Conner perpetrated.
He doesn't blame the media for the unwanted publicity that, Harris said, negatively impacted his business at the park "because that's just our world," Harris said.
But Harris wants the public to know that there is more to the park than the notoriety that followed the gunfire on that Sunday afternoon. "We're still open. We still have a nice place to stay. We didn't do anything wrong," Harris said.
Harris is in the process of changing the name of the park. He plans to have a new sign at the entrance in a few days that bears the new name: Quite Country. His sister, Muriel Lantin, suggested the name.
"The incident that happened here really hurt the business," Harris said. "When you call us up on (the Internet), all you see is page after page about the incident. Everyone who stays here says 'this is the best place we've ever stayed.'"
At its peak, the 2 1/2-year-old RV park had 16 residents, and had eight to 10 when the shooting happened, Harris said. Around the first of the year, Harris became concerned because "we just weren't getting any traffic here." Then Harris' son, Greg, called him and asked if he'd looked up RV parks in Brownwood on the Internet. That's when Harris realized the shooting was synonymous with the RV park.
Harris grew up on farmland behind the RV park, and he installed a peach orchard in 1986. Harris opened the RV park in September 2010.
He sometimes stays in a mobile home set up near the orchard, but spends much of his time in the Metroplex, where he and his son own an auto wholesale business.
Harris was willing to talk about the Sunday the shooting happened.
He'd already asked the confrontational Conner to leave the park, and Conner had said he'd go but it would take him a few days to get out.
Harris attended the service that morning at Salt Creek Baptist Church and was driving toward the park when he received a call from a resident on his cell phone telling him there was trouble. "W.T., you've got to get out here …"
While Harris was talking to that resident, another resident tried to call him — Tina Calaci. Her number came up on Harris' phone and indicated a missed call. When Harris tried to answer her call, no one was there.
Harris drove to the entrance of the park. Law enforcement officers were already there and would not let Harris or anyone else into the park. "I didn't know what had happened. I was just shocked," Harris recalled.
Harris learned that Conner had shot and killed Calaci and her companion, David House. Conner was dead, too.
A couple of months later, Conner's sister came to the park and took Conner's pickup and camping trailer.
With the exception of a single Sunday afternoon, "it's a nice, quiet place," Harris reiterated. "Everyone who stays out here will tell you it's a nice, quiet place. … it was an incident no one had any control over."