Masked gunmen kill mom in her own home

August 24, 2011 3:27:29 PM PDT
There is shock and fear in a northwest Harris County neighborhood after a woman was gunned down during a home invasion.

Harris County Sheriff's deputies say three men wearing ski masks and carrying shotguns rang the doorbell at a home on Copper Crossing Court at Hollow Sands around 9:30pm Tuesday. A 17-year-old girl who lived there opened the front door and the suspects pushed their way inside the home.

Neighbors say they heard a gunshot.

"Like a pow; like an open sound, but not long. Like a gunshot," said neighbor Erika Garcia.

She and her family were inside their home when she says she heard that gunshot. But Garcia says she had no idea it was coming from inside her neighbor's house.

"We were like wow that's major," Garcia said.

Harris County Sheriff's deputies say just minutes earlier, a 40-year-old homeowner heard her 17-year-old daughter scream after three men wearing ski masks and carrying shotguns barged through the front door. Deputies say one suspect grabbed the teen by the neck and placed a gun to her head. But deputies say before her mother, Peggy Ariza, could get downstairs, one of the suspects fired his gun, shooting the mom in the chest right in front of her daughter.

Ariza, 40, was transported via LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital where she later died from a single gunshot wound.

"It's terrible," said one neighbor.

"It scares me to know that something like that has happened in our neighborhood," another neighbor said.

For residents who remember seeing the mother-daughter duo often together in the neighborhood, this murder is unimaginable.

"Just imagine the sadness of the little girl -- that's scary; that's sad," said Garcia.

Neighbors confirm a picture from her business website is that of Ariza. She apparently ran Edible Joys out of her home. Investigators believe robbery may have been the motive.

"It appears like the motive is robbery, but we're still trying to determine everything. We're waiting on a search warrant now and get into the residence and see if anything's missing; anything of that nature," said Sgt. Robert Spurgeon with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say Ariza's teenage daughter as well as a friend and her baby were in the home at the time, but were not injured.

The suspects fled the scene and remain on the loose. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Harris County Sheriff's Office Homicide Unit at 713-967-5810 or call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

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