A five-year-old was fatally shot and another child wounded in a suspected drive-by shooting in Houston, marking a devastating kickoff to the July Fourth weekend.
The Houston Police Department received multiple calls about a suspected shooting shortly before 1am Sunday in the city’s Greenspoint neighbourhood, a residential and family-friendly area, Asst Chief Chandra Hatcher told reporters at a briefing.
When officers arrived at the scene, they didn’t see any witnesses, complainants or suspects. Fifteen minutes after receiving the initial complaint, however, police were informed that two children being treated for gunshot wounds at a nearby hospital.
Investigators were told that the children aged five and eight years old were sitting in a car that was stopped at an intersection on Northborough Drive. The female driver was described as a mother, but authorities did not confirm if both children were hers.
Witnesses told police the gunfire erupted from a dark car travelling westbound on Rushcreek Drive that might have had two suspects inside.
Asst Chief Hatcher said that once the woman inside the car realised that the two children in the car had been shot, she took them to a nearby hospital.
The five-year-old was pronounced dead, and the eight-year-old is expected to make a full recovery, she said.
Authorities say that it’s unclear if driver of the car or the children were the intended targets of the shooting, and a motive has not been determined. The only descriptions the department has of the suspects is that there were perhaps two black men driving a dark vehicle.
Police are canvassing the area for surveillance footage that can help with leads, and in the meantime, they are asking the public to direct any information that could assist in the investigation to the department’s homicide unit or Crime Stoppers.
Asst Chief Hatcher also warned with it being the Fourth of July weekend that it is illegal to discharge firearms in the city, even if it’s meant to be a celebratory action.
“What goes up must come down and so we’re asking everyone to just be safe and to be responsible and do not discharge firearms,” she said. “We don’t know where those rounds go and they have to stop somewhere and we really don’t want any innocent people especially children being impacted or injured by anyone’s negligence this weekend.”
The holiday weekend shooting is an unwelcome reminder of the country’s ongoing gun violence problem, which is sharply present in the Lone Star state which has more than a million gun owners and some of the country’s least-restrictive laws on the books for carrying.
In 2021, Gov Greg Abbott signed a law that terminated the requirement to have a licence to carry handguns, giving almost anyone over the age of 21 permission to have one in their holster.
Gun restriction laws such as this have come under sharp criticism since an 18-year-old gunman swept through a fourth-grade classroom and shot and killed 19 students and two adult teachers in Uvalde, Texas, about 290 miles west of where the two children were shot in a drive-by shooting this past weekend, this past May.
And according to the Houston Chronicle, Harris County – where Houston resides – has lost 142 children to gun violence since the beginning of 2018 until the beginning of June 2022.
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