There are few more disturbing crimes than mass shootings in which children are the victims. Over the weekend, the bodies of five children and three adults were found in a Houston-area home after a standoff with a suspect who was holed up in the house.
Police said a man who exchanged gunfire with the police was arrested after the incident.
CNN reported the comments of Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, who said police responded to a call to perform a check on the home on the night of Aug. 8.
It not clear who made the call. When police arrived at the scene, they tried to summon someone to the door, but no one appeared, Gilliland said.
Police said they received information “that a male was in the home and had a warrant for an aggravated assault on a family member.”
Events took a sinister turn when deputies who had surrounded the house saw a child’s body through the window and decided to enter the residence, according to Gilliland. Some deputies entered the house. At that point, a suspect started shooting from inside the house, forcing officers to pull back and call in hostage negotiators and a unit that specializes in high-risk situations.
Gilliland said the negotiators began a dialogue with the suspect and eventually convinced him to come out. He was taken into custody without incident. Deputies then entered the home and discovered the bodies of the eight victims.
Gilliland said the ages or genders were not known of the victims. Investigators are trying to determine if any of the victims were family members of the suspect. He said police had received previous calls for service at the home located on a quiet residential street off of Fallingbrook “lined with well-maintained brick houses,” the Houston Chronicle reported.
The Houston Chronicle interviewed Alan Cartagena, 19, who said he was at a barbecue at his girlfriend’s nearby house as deputies swarmed the scene. His girlfriend’s cousin, who was a friend of one of the boys who lived at the home, sent him a text message, asking if everything was OK. There was no reply, Cartagena said. He said deputies burst into their house and screamed at the occupants to “stay inside!” He said they spent hours inside.
On Sunday a 49-year-old man who police said had a history of violence was charged with multiple counts of capital murder in the deaths of five children and three adults.
Gilliland identified David R. Conley III as the suspect in the case. He said the relationship between Conley and the victims is unclear. Investigators were reported to be still trying to determine how they were killed.
There are many unanswered questions in this case and the role of agencies such as social services are likely to be scrutinized.
Although cases in which killings are committed by strangers make headlines, the suspect usually knows the victims in the majority of homicide cases and family members are often involved. If you are charged with a homicide it is important to hire an experienced defense attorney.