Dad just welcomed baby, 2-year-old son started calling aunt by name before both died, family says

Michael Essien identified as the man killed on Sept. 20. Essien's son died after the suspect left him in the victim's stolen SUV.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Slain dad, whose son died in SUV, just had baby week ago, family says
Through tears, the sister of a father of three who was killed tells Eyewitness News that his family grew in the week before his murder and the death of his 2-year-old son.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A family is speaking out after a father was gunned down at a gas station in southwest Houston and his 2-year-old son was found dead in his stolen car a couple of miles away.

According to Houston police, Michael Essien met up with a man at a gas station in the 5500 block of El Camino Del Rey and Chimney Rock on Tuesday at about 1:45 p.m. The two got into an argument, and for unknown reasons, the suspect pulled out a gun and shot Essien.

He then took off in Essien's SUV with the victim's 2-year-old son still in the backseat.

"All I want is my brother and my 2-year-old who just learned how to say 'Auntie Jessie,'" the victim's sister, Jessie, said while crying as she struggled with gut-wrenching grief. "He called Auntie Jessie in the church Sunday. He ran and said, 'Hi, Auntie Jessie.'"

It wasn't until hours later, at about 6:40 p.m., that officers knew a child was in the vehicle when a concerned mother frantically called 911, saying her husband and son were missing.

According to police, the description the woman gave matched the victim's description.

Within 30 minutes of the mother's call, the stolen car with the baby was found just miles away. However, it was too late. The baby who was left alone in the hot car for hours and died from what officials believe was heat exhaustion.

Essien leaves behind a wife and two other children, including a baby they welcomed just one week ago, who will now never get to know his sibling and father.

"Michael has a 5-year-old son and a 1-week-old baby, 1-week old," Jessie cried. "Michael has a wife. Lord Jesus, all I need is my brother."

ABC13 was the only crew there as officers arrested a suspect at an apartment complex near where the shooting took place, early Wednesday morning. The man, 38, now faces charges of murder and tampering with evidence. Houston police will release the suspect's name once charges are filed.

"Anybody that knows my brother knows Michael is a peaceful man," Jessie said. "Michael never argued with anyone. Michael takes the shirt off his body and gives to other people to put on. Michael would give the last dime he has to other people."

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

Eyewitness News is learning new details about the suspect who neighbors recognized shortly after our cameras captured his arrest before dawn Wednesday.

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