38-year-old is facing charges in the killing that led to discovery of child dead inside stolen SUV

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 10:56PM
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Eyewitness News is learning new details about the suspect who neighbors recognized shortly after our cameras captured his arrest before dawn Wednesday.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 38-year-old man was detained Wednesday morning after a father was shot to death, and the victim's toddler was found dead inside a stolen SUV less than 24 hours before in southwest Houston.

The man is facing murder and tampering with evidence charges, according to police.

The Houston Police Department said the suspect's name and booking photo will be released once charges are filed in court.

ABC13 was the only crew that captured police detaining a person who matched the description of a man seen in surveillance video shortly after a 2-year-old's body was found. The arrest happened at about 5 a.m. at an apartment complex down the street from the original shooting scene, in the 5500 block of El Camino Del Rey and Chimney Rock.

By Wednesday afternoon, police confirmed ABC13's video shows the man investigators were looking for related to the fatal shooting.

ABC13 showed neighbors photos of the man who police say is connected to the crime, and they recognized him.

"Yeah, that's him right there. That's his car right there," Louis Perley, a neighbor, said.

It's all tied to a deadly shooting that unfolded on Tuesday at about 1:45 p.m. when police responded to what they said was an apparent disturbance between two men, which led to an argument.

During the argument, one of the men pulled out a gun and shot the other man, identified as 38-year-old Michael Essien, multiple times in the chest. Essien was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The suspect took off in Essien's SUV, which was described as a black Chevy Traverse or Equinox with a paper license plate.

A woman was at a nearby gas station when she heard the shots being fired. She said she saw Essien fall to his death.

"He was tumbling and agonizing," she said.

Hours after the shooting, at 6:36 p.m., police said they received a missing persons report from a woman who said her husband and 2-year-old child were missing.

She gave a description that matched the SUV that police were searching for in connection to the fatal shooting.

"We realized very quickly that (the victim from the original scene) was her husband," HPD Executive Chief Larry Satterwhite said. "We never knew about the child until she called at 6:36 p.m."

About 30 minutes later, investigators found the stolen vehicle in the 5900 block of Elm Street with Essien's 2-year-old son locked inside.

Officers broke off the glass on the SUV and immediately attempted to render aid, but the child was pronounced dead by the time an ambulance arrived, Satterwhite said.

Investigators believe the child died from heat exhaustion as he may have been in the car since about 2 p.m. An autopsy will confirm the cause of death.

Perley said the man police have identified as a person of interest would hang around the area.

Another neighbor, Aaliyah Laday, claims the man lived in his car and used to work security at the apartment complex.

"I'm shocked. I've talked to this guy before," Laday said.

"A mother lost her husband, and she lost her 2-year-old child (Tuesday)," Satterwhite said. "We are asking for your help."

It's unclear if the suspect and Essien knew each other.

WATCH: HPD briefs reporters at scene of deadly shooting in southwest Houston