A man was killed and two children — one just 6 months old — were injured in separate shootings over the weekend on freeways in Texas’ largest city.
Police in Houston have launched an urgent search for suspects in both shootings and said at least one incident stemmed from road rage.
“Road rage incidents … it’s unbelievable. It’s increasing every single day,” Officer Almugerh Alobaidi of the Houston Police Department’s Major Assaults Division said during a news conference. “My advice to everybody: Do not instigate it. This is not worth it at all.”
Around 7 p.m. on Sunday, two children, ages 9 and 6 months, were injured when a driver apparently became enraged after merging in front of an SUV driven by the children’s mother on Interstate 610, nearly colliding with the family, Alobaidi said.
“They had a kind of verbal altercation, and the suspect decided to pull a gun and start shooting,” Alobaidi said.
The 9-year-old was struck in the back and leg by a “bullet or shrapnel,” and her infant brother suffered cuts to his forehead by flying glass, police said. The children were treated at nearby Texas Children’s Hospital.
Police said they’re searching for a red two-door Honda Acura in connection with the shooting and have asked for the public’s help in solving the crime. A witness described the driver of the Acura as a Black male with tattoos on his face and red streaks in his hair, according to police.
The shooting comes after a 29-year-old man was fatally shot in front of his two sons, ages 6 and 8, while driving on Interstate 10 east of downtown around 10:40 p.m. Friday, police said.
Tyler Young was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Neither boy was injured, and they managed to take the wheel of the vehicle, guide it off the freeway and run to a nearby restaurant for help.
The boys told police the gunfire came without warning and they initially thought someone had hurled a rock at their vehicle before noticing their father slumped over the wheel.
Lt. Ronnie Wilkens, a spokesperson for the Houston Police Department, said a motive for the shooting remains unclear but that investigators have not ruled out a road rage confrontation.
“We don’t know if it was road rage or if it was someone actually trying to get these individuals,” Wilkens told ABC Houston station KTRK. “So, prayers for their family. The kids are safe right now.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Saturday that a reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of Young’s killer had been increased to $10,000.
This year in the U.S., a person has been killed or injured in a suspected road rage shooting roughly 18 hours, according to an analysis released in June by Everytown for Gun Safety of data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released results of a study in July finding that 218 people were killed and another 12,610 were injured in 10,000 road rage incidents nationwide over a seven-year period — approximately four such confrontations per day.
The near back-to-back freeway shootings in Houston occurred about a month after a pregnant woman was shot and critically injured in a road rage incident in Dallas. Police said Daniela Tovar was shot in the head around 10:30 p.m. on June 25 as she and her husband were driving home from a party.
Tovar, who remains in critical condition, was taken to a hospital and doctors were able to safely deliver her baby, her husband told ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA.
Police said the shooting erupted after someone in a dark-colored, four-door sedan cut off the victim and her husband in traffic, followed the couple and opened fire. No arrests have been made in the incident.
“I never thought this would happen to us,” Tovar’s husband, who asked that his name be withheld because the killer is still on the loose, told WFAA. “We had plans to build a great future together. Now, I’m devastated.”