Well-known East Side corner store owner found shot to death in his truck

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston police say a well-known East Side store owner was found shot to death inside of a truck.

He was found around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday on Fidelity near Delaware. Police say they have very little to go on.

They know the shop owner, 53-year-old Gregory Wiltz, left his store before he was killed, but they don't know what led up to the shooting. Investigators say there may have been multiple shooters. A nearby neighbor said they heard at least eight gunshots.

The store owner's death is the latest in a concerning trend in Houston's crime rate, according to investigators, especially just 27 days into the new year.

The Houston Police Department is currently reporting 30 homicides so far this year, compared to 21 murders this time last year and 15 homicides in Jan 2019.

"[It's been a] busy year already. Everyone is aware the homicide rate was higher than 2019. At this point, I would say the trend is continuing," said HPD Det. L. Lange.

At least 400 people were killed in Houston in 2020. That's 100 more than in 2015 and 2016, when the city hit 300 murders.

Last year's murder rate was 42% higher than 2019.

"I know people in communities like this," resident Isaac Jones said. "We hear this all the time, so people around here tend to get numb to it and don't even know how to feel when things like this are happening."

Jones, who is a friend of the Wiltz's family, said they see the crime continuing to increase in their community and they want to see change.

According to ABC13 data, in the zip code where Wiltz was killed, 77029, the crime rate increased 30% in 2020, including four murders compared to one homicide in 2019. Plus, robberies in the area increased by 59%.

"For future generations, I would want more for the kids," Jones said. "Entrepreneur programs, sports programs, all of that has been taken out of this community, and I'm sure we're not the only one. If you want to change out here, if you want change in the community and how change will come about, it would be through the kids, and we would have to set something in place right now."

ABC13 has investigated the spike in violent crime, and we found the trends started to skyrocket before the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

Watch live newscasts and in-depth reporting from ABC13 on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and AndroidTV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."

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