Police: Shooting at stash house for illegal immigrants

March 30, 2010 2:33:49 PM PDT
Harris County deputies got a little more than they bargained for when they responded to reports of a shooting in a northeast Houston neighborhood. They found what they say was a so-called 'stash house,' filled with illegal immigrants who weren't being allowed to leave. The couple who owns the home on Vashti near Karen leased it to a new tenant less than two weeks ago. They got a phone call just after 10pm Monday night that something bad had happened at the house. They say there was never any indication that the new tenant might be trouble.

Though she wants to remain anonymous, this homeowner is outraged that someone she rented her house to allegedly used it to hold at least 50 suspected illegal immigrants against their will.

"It's terrible," she said. "It's terrible what human beings do to other people. It's just horrible and it just really makes me sick."

The house is torn apart. Windows that were once screwed shut and covered with black trash bags have been shattered. Clothes are scattered across the floor. In one living room closet is a heaping pile of shoes.

Last night neighbors who witnessed scores of people scurrying from the home after reports of a shooting describe the scene as chaotic.

"There was about three people who jumped through our back fence and then went over to the neighbor's yard," said neighbor Troy Lane. "There were some kids hiding in a little truck over on the side. It was weird."

Sheriff's deputies rounded up at least nine suspected illegal immigrants who have since been turned over to federal authorities. Dozens more got away.

Neighbor Lorena Esparza said, "There were girls, like 15 or 16 years old. They were all crying, holding babies in their arms and stuff like that."

About 20 minutes later, two men drove up to a nearby Pilot gas station in a Lincoln Navigator. The driver was hurt and his passenger was shot. Both men told police they'd been robbed. Authorities believe the two scenes are connected. Those men were taken to Ben Taub Hospital.

The homeowner said, "Hopefully justice is served to the people that did this to my home and to the people that were shot and for all the victims that were kept here in my home."

As for the suspected illegal immigrants, according to ICE, if they have outstanding orders of deportation, they will be removed from the US immediately. If they do not, they will have a chance to face a judge to plead their case.


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