One dead in home invasion crime spree

January 9, 2009 3:48:13 PM PST
Awakened by the sound of gunshots, a community remains shaken over a violent home invasion. Investigators are looking into the possibility that it was the end of a violent, but random crime spree.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The victim, who friends lovingly called 'Giggles,' was killed in an apparent random home invasion this morning. Since then, we've learned similar violent robberies occurred overnight in Pasadena and Houston.

Officially, not all four home invasions have been linked, but three area police departments are working together to connect the dots. There's a similar group of suspects, the same method of operation, and one murder. The crimes appear to be spread out over hours and miles.

At 8:30pm Thursday night in Pasadena, a man was robbed in his apartment at gunpoint. Three laptop computers were taken and shots were fired as the robbers left.

Thirty minutes later, near the Gulf Freeway and Beltway 8, another apartment was robbed. Three gunmen took electronics and stole a Ford Ranger truck.

Then just after 1am Friday morning in Humble, a man believed to be a customs service employee was robbed in his apartment and shot once in the leg. He jumped off a balcony to get away. The robbers fired at another resident who saw them, but the shots missed. Neighbors heard the commotion.

"I heard someone say 'Help, help, help.' Then I heard three gunshots 'Pow, pow, pow," said neighbor Shalandra Moore.

Within five minutes, more gunshots were heard at a nearby apartment complex. The robbers knocked on the door and when it was opened, all three men forced their way inside. Moments later, one resident was dead and another wounded. The suspects got away in what was thought to be the truck stolen earlier in Houston.

"There's no knowing each other. It's just random home invasions. We understand there are other agencies working the same type of cases with the same type of descriptions," said Det. Eric Squire of the Humble Police Department.

That's little consolation to the friends of Mauricio Cruz who was killed. He was well-liked and his nickname was 'Giggles.'

"I just don't have any words. I don't understand why. He didn't have a chance," said a co-worker and friend of Cruz's who would only describe herself as 'Laurin.'

The suspects are described as three black males in their 20s to early 30s. One was wearing a red t-shirt, another was wearing a white t-shirt. All three had on baggy, black pants. The last vehicle in which they were seen is the dark blue 2000 Ford Ranger.

If you have any information on the suspects, please call the police.

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