Police identify BB shooting suspects

September 24, 2009 1:17:40 PM PDT
Rice University Police Department and Houston Police Department have identified four people involved in a series of BB shootings that took place over Labor Day weekend near the Rice campus and on I-45. Three of the four have been arrested, and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of the fourth.Charged with aggravated assault are Caitlin Barnett, 19; John Michael Chargois, 22; Paul Helton, age unknown; and Bonnie Mugg, 21. Only Barnett and Chargois are accused of being involved with the entire series of shootings. The arrest of Barnett, who is a current Rice student, is still pending, according to university officials.

Four people were shot at with an air-powered weapon from a passing motor vehicle while they were walking or running on the soft city sidewalk around the perimeter of the Rice campus Sept. 6 and 7. One of the victims reported being shot at and then knocked to the ground by the assailants as she walked on University Boulevard near Rice Village. The victims suffered minor injuries and did not seek medical treatment. Over the Labor Day weekend police also received reports of a window shot out with a BB in a car parked on Bissonnet Street and in two cars traveling on I-45 South.

The BBs were allegedly shot from a white Ford Ranger pickup owned by Barnett and a gray Ford Escape owned by Mugg. According to university officials, one of the victims of the I-45 shootings followed the gray Ford Escape and got the license plate number. When that victim learned that Rice police were looking for clues in the BB shootings near campus that had happened the same day, she wondered whether the incidents were connected and contacted Rice police.

"That was absolutely a key factor in solving this case," said Rice Police Capt. Dianna Marshall. "Had we not had the plate number, we would never have been able to connect all these incidents together."

Rice police reportedly found three BBs on the floor of Mugg's vehicle. Interviews with some of the suspects provided additional clues that led to the issuing of warrants for the arrest of all four alleged participants. Upon arrest, the individuals remain in jail until they go to trial unless they post bond for release.

"This was an unusual situation," said Rice Police Chief Bill Taylor. "Even though the soft sidewalk around the university is owned by the city, we took the initiative to investigate these shootings because we know that area is used a lot by our community and we want the campus to remain a safe place. Reckless behavior that endangers others will not be tolerated at Rice."

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