Father charged in shooting deaths of three children

September 20, 2010 4:52:53 AM PDT
A father is facing charges, accused of shooting and killing his three children during a family visit in northeast Harris County. Investigators say the father had a history of violence. The children's bodies were found in an apartment by a store off of Homestead. The father has a gunshot wound himself and is in the hospital.

It was inside a convenience store that Tabitha Contreras first befriended a shy, mother of three, and started hearing stories that the woman's husband, Mohammed Goher, was abusive.

"She would tell me that it was getting real bad, that she would wake up and he would have the gun pointed to the head, or have knives pointed to the kids while they were sleeping, and she didn't know what to do," said Contreras.

On Sunday morning, Contreras got the phone call she dreaded - that her friend's three children, ages 7, 12 and 14, were shot dead. Goher, their father who apparently shot himself, is charged with capital murder.

"They are laying in their beds. There doesn't appear to have been a struggle or anything, so there's a good possibility they may have been asleep while they were shot," said Sgt Ben Beall of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Goher and his wife ran a convenience store for years, and the entire family lived a small cramped attached apartment. Contreras says her friend was so afraid that she lived with her for a few months, but Goher constantly harassed them.

"He would drive by the house all the time. She would be scared for my kids and for us," Contreras said.

Court records show Goher was charged with assaulting his wife in 2006. Detectives say the children were on a court ordered visitation this weekend.

When the shots rang out, one nearby neighbor who didn't want to talk on camera says the children's caretaker ran out screaming.

"I seen the lady screaming and I tell her, what happened? And she points at her head and says shoot, shoot!" said Julio.

He says the caretaker ran out of the small home begging for help.

"She doesn't speak much English. I couldn't really talk to her that much, but I knew she was in some type of danger. That's why I called the cops," Julio said.

Goher's ex-wife currently lives in a women's shelter. The two divorced last year, but Contreras says she wanted to leave years ago.

"She wanted to leave him; she didn't want to leave her kids there," said Contreras.

Authorities have contacted the mother and are questioning the caregiver, but call her a witness, not a suspect. One woman saw the man at the store late last night.

"He wasn't talkative at all. Usually he's real outspoken, talks to everybody, but last night he was kind of in a daze," said Ashley Guerrero.

They say it's hard to wake up to such horror involving a family they grew to know so well.

"It shocks me a lot because I have kids and my kids go there and he always talks to my kids," Guerrero said.

Goher's case went through probable cause court this morning. He was not present. Goher is still in the hospital, listed in stable condition.

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