Five suspects arrested for burglary

January 7, 2011 6:01:34 PM PST
Residents of a community in north Harris County are alarmed after deputies say a group of men barged into a home looking to steal. Eyewitness News has learned some of the suspects have ties to local college football teams. Five suspects were arrested Friday morning and investigators say they may be responsible for more home burglaries.

The suspects are accused of burglarizing a home at the end of a cul-de-sac on Wallstone Court near Louetta in north Harris County. At least two of those suspects played college football, and some of them may have known each other through high school. But the key player in this instance is a cleaning lady who kept a watch out in the neighborhood.

Ruby Gonzales was supposed to clean a house around 11am Friday, but instead of sweeping and vacuuming, she helped constables crack a burglary case.

"We were cleaning the next door neighbor's house," she recalled. "We went to take some stuff outside and we saw a suspicious truck and we just kept an eye on it."

Gonzales and her co-worker noticed five men taking items out of the house.

"First thing we saw them take was their big plasma TV," Gonzales said. "That's the first thing we saw them take."

Immediately, they called their boss who then called 911. A deputy constable was nearby. He was able to arrest four out of the five suspects. The final suspect, Joseph Coffer, was captured half an hour later.

Harris County Precinct 4 Assistant Chief Mark Herman said, "The citizen that called this in and the deputy being where they should be was instrumental in getting these guys caught."

As for Gonzalez, her boss says she's just grateful no one was hurt.

"I'm just glad that they're safe and everything, and also that we got five other people off the streets that's going to make a difference in this world," said the cleaning company owner, Daphne Burns.

Constables say the suspects -- Sjondarien Terrel, 17; Joseph Coffer, 21; Lonnie McNiel, 18; Denarius Marshall, 20; and Anthony Lewis, Jr., 20 -- first stole a truck nearby, then drove to the house, allegedly stealing two TVs, four weapons and lots of jewelry.

We've since confirmed that one of the suspects, Anthony Lewis, Jr., is currently on the Texas Southern University football team. All five are in custody facing multiple charges.

TSU Football Head Coach Johnnie Cole issued a statement to Eyewitness News, reading in part, "I don't have specific information on what allegedly happened in this situation, but I pray this matter is worked out in (Lewis') favor, and my heart goes out to his family."

Denarius Marshall was apparently in the football program about a year ago for West Texas A&M University. We have also learned at least two of the five suspects went to high school together.