Police: Boy witnessed mom's shooting

March 29, 2011 9:52:15 AM PDT
Houston police are investigating an apparent attempted murder-suicide in southeast Houston Monday that ended with a man dead and a woman hospitalized. The shooting happened at about 6:15pm at the Bellfort Pines Apartments on Canyon and Shelby Circle. A resident saw a four-year-old boy walking around by himself, crying. According to investigators, the woman knew where the boy lived and took him back to the apartment.

There, she found the door open. When she looked inside, investigators tell us, she saw a man on the ground, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. He's been identified as Michael Anthony Venters, 28.

The neighbor went further inside and found the boy's mother, Erica Semeko Hilliard, 28, in the hallway with at least one gunshot wound, crying for help. According to police, the neighbor then ran next door and called 911.

"(Hilliard) is still alive. She is expected to live," said Sgt. Robert Torres with the Houston Police Department. "It may take some time to recover as she has very serious injuries."

The boy was not hurt. Detectives were able to interview him before turning him over to Hilliard's family members.

"The child was unharmed. He did witness the incident, was able to give us a brief audio recorded statement, describing the details of what happened," said Sgt. Torres.

Police say Hilliard confronted Venters, her live-in boyfriend, about having sexual relations with her best friend. She told Venters she was ending their relationship and asked him to leave the apartment. Venters then produced a gun, shot Hilliard several times and then turned the gun on himself.

Police the gun used in the shooting was recently purchased by Hilliard. They say it appears she bought it for Venters who could not legally purchase one himself because he was a convicted felon.