A man in Houston is suspected in at least three killings in recent days, and a few other attempted murders. Police there have called the man a potential serial killer and had asked for the public's help in apprehending the man, who was on parole and cut off his ankle bracelet. Now the Houston serial killer is in custody.
The manhunt was a dramatic one, with Houston police describing Jose Gilberto Rodriguez, 46, as a key suspect in five attacks in the area, which had led to three deaths. "The sooner we can get him into custody, the sooner we can all breath better," the Houston Police Department said before he was apprehended.
The police narrowed down the perpetrators of one of the attacks by using security footage at a shopping mall. The suspect reportedly stole a victim's car, drove to the mall, and parked it there. He was identified from closed captioning video.
That victim, Pamela Johnson, 62, was not the first, though. Police believe the first attack was a home-invasion robbery on July 9. The robbery victim survived. Johnson, who was found in her northwest Harris County home four days later, on July 13, did not. She was killed by gunfire, and it was her 2004 Chrysler PT Cruiser that was found abandoned at the mall.
Some of Johnson's valuables were also taken. Her television, computer, and jewelry were taken, although police haven't pointed to robbery as the main reason of the attacks. Houston police said the motive was not certain.
Another victim, Allie Barrow, 28, was found at a mattress store on Saturday, also killed by gunfire, local news team Click 2 Houston reported. Then on Sunday, at yet another mattress store, a third victim, Edward Magana, was found dead — again killed using a gun.
The fifth attack was against a transit driver. The victim was robbed and shot but is expected to survive.
The details of how the suspect was taken into custody have not been released by local police, but it came quickly after police shared photos of the man on Twitter. "He is believed to be armed [and] extremely dangerous. If you see him call 9-1-1," the police warned, while noting the "distinctive tattoos on his neck and the top of his head."
The threat was so serious that both Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez gave the press conference together, something that the local media noted was extremely rare. Police thought that the suspect was looking for someone, but they didn't know who.
"He's been on a rampage in a series of murders," Acevedo said at the press conference. "Let's get this man off the street as soon as possible."
The police chief also explained the man may be considered to be a serial killer, depending on his motive. "A serial killer is three or more murders — separate homicides — usually without a motive," Acevedo said at the press conference. "This guy's motive appears to be robbery in a lot of cases."
Sherriff Gonzalez seemed more convinced that the suspect was in fact a serial killer. "That's what we're facing," he told reporters.
However the suspect was apprehended will come out with time, but it could be he took a warning from Acevdeo to heart. "Best thing he can do is turn himself in before he gets himself hurt or anybody else," Acevedo told reporters, noting the local culture. "We are in the state of Texas as you all know, [people have] got a lot of CHLs [concealed handgun licenses]."
As Houston police said, the city can now "breathe better."