KAUFMAN COUNTY, Texas — A Kaufman County serviceman, born in Kaufman and a graduate of Quinlan High School, was shot and killed while protecting his family during a home invasion in Michigan, where the young family had just recently moved.
22-year-old Christopher Neal was a husband, a father, a son, a friend, and a hero.
On the night of December 1, 2019, Neal was home with his pregnant wife and child when an unknown-to-them assailant, identified by police as 35-year-old William Paul Jones, broke into their home and held them hostage for approximately 40 minutes.
Neal's wife and child were able to hide upstairs and call 911 while he confronted Jones, who police described as a career criminal, downstairs.
Responding officers from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Michigan State Police, and the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office rushed into the home upon hearing gunfire — three of those officers, one from each department, were struck by gunfire.
Neal, tragically, was killed during the home invasion.
Jones, according to police, now faces 19 charges including murder, home invasion, unlawful imprisonment, and assault with intent to murder.
"Chris will be remembered for his kind heart, his thirst for life, and his sincere devotion to those he loved," reads, in part, his obituary.
Neal joined the Navy after graduating from Quinlan High School. He and his family had recently moved to Comstock Township, just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, after receiving a job at an aviation company in nearby Battle Creek.
A candlelight vigil will be held at Quinlan Community Park on Saturday, December 14, 2019, according to his wife, Haley. A celebration of life will be held the following day at Quinlan High school. Times for both events, which are open to the public, are to be determined.
A Fundly account has been established for Neal's family, here.