Student arrested in UH killing

April 24, 2009 11:10:51 AM PDT
Prosecutors have revealed a possible motive for the murder of a homeless man near the University of Houston campus. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Authorities say they believe U of H student Jeremy Pierce shot and killed Joe Tall last February because Pierce told investigators that he believes homeless people are useless. That information came out during Pierce's probable cause hearing overnight.

Meanwhile, students said they were relieved to learn there had been an arrest in the killing. They were also very surprised to find out that a fellow student had been charged with murder.

University of Houston students are in their final week of regular classes. Many who pass by the bus stop where Joe Tall, 48, was killed, say since February, they have tried to be more aware.

"You have to think of a way to creatively defend yourself. If anything were to happen to you, you have to think about how you would react to that situation," said student Carlisa Daniels.

Another student, Jeremy Garcia, said, "Anytime that there's crime in the vicinity of campus, it's a concern for everybody especially those who study late at night and women who walk by themselves."

Investigators said Tall, a homeless man, was sleeping in the bus stop shelter when he was shot and killed on February 7. A student found him on the way to work.

"I would say that people weren't focused so much on that it was a homeless man, it was just a person. Someone was murdered (on) our campus," said Garcia.

In between classes Thursday, students learned that fellow student Jeremy Lee Pierce, 32, has been charged with the crime.

"Maybe UH needs to tighten their restrictions and do more criminal background checks on students who are accepted to this school," said student Halie Shah.

Garcia added, "I'm surprised. As a student, you expect other people that you see at the university to have a higher level of morality than just a criminal."

Investigators said Pierce admitted in a recorded statement to shooting Tall after two students turned him in when he threatened them with a gun during a fight earlier this week.

"My friends in my class couldn't believe that this happened to somebody completely innocent," said Shah.

Most of the students we talked with said they though the university has handled the situation well and kept them informed, but many of them said they would like to see more security and patrols on campus.

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