Authorities say the charge of deadly conduct against Willie Young, 21, was dropped. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday morning in probable cause court. The dropped charge came at the request of the Harris County Sheriff's Office after investigators interviewed witnesses and determined that Young was not a shooter.
"He went to pick up his sister at the request of his mother. And he took victims himself to the hospital to seek help and then went back to try and help others," community activist Quanell X said. "It is most unfortunate that this young man was charged with a crime and put in jail to where his name had to be cleared. It is most unfortunate that in another high-profile shooting here in Houston, like the Lone Star College shooting, a rush to judgment by the Harris County homicide division has put another young African American male behind bars for a crime that they never committed."
But Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia defended his department's decision to file the charges against Young to begin with.
"There is no rush to judgment. It is following up on information that we believe to be credible, and I believe that when you can act quickly with what you believe to be credible information, the better for public safety," Garcia said.
Sources tell Eyewitness News that Young passed three lie detector tests. But Garcia stands by his investigators.
"We took the information to the Harris County DA's Office. We counsel with them, and they decide whether we're allowed to move to the next step," Garcia said.
Three people who knew Young by name and appearance before Saturday had told investigators after the shootings that Young had fired a gun at the party. But after a charge of deadly conduct was filed against him, and while investigators looked at all evidence, other witnesses came forward and provided information that cleared Young.
Young and Randy Stewart, who's charged with aggravated assault, were arrested Monday in connection with the shooting at a party in Cypress that left two teens dead.
Sweetie Davis, the sister-in-law of the party's host, said she's frustrated.
"If he didn't do it, then why would he be charged?" Davis said.
Davis said she wants whoever is responsible in custody.
"I always have to watch my back now, you know? Keep doors locked, stuff like that," she said.
It's still unclear at this time who fired the shots that killed the two victims, Queric Richardson, 17, and Arielle Shepherd, 16. Prosecutors believe there are two or more other people involved that they consider murder suspects who are still not in custody.
They also believe there are several firearms that have not been found and there's the possibility of multiple gangs being involved in this shooting.
"Well, I think a lot of things caused this," said Harris County prosecutor Katherine McDaniel. "I think that, in part, bringing firearms to parties is not the way to go. You have a bunch of 18-year-olds who are carrying firearms, many of whom are involved in opposing cliques or gangs and for whatever reason a dispute erupted."
Prosecutors also confirmed that Richardson knew Stewart. Prosecutors did say they may have been involved in the same gang.
To make matters more confusing, prosecutors say Stewart was out of jail on bail for writing a forged check to Richardson. Investigator believe that could have played a role in the shooting.
Investigators are continuing to develop information that could lead to additional suspects. About 100 people were at the party.
Anyone with information about the shootings should call the Homicide Division at 713-967-5810 or call Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS or download and use the Sheriff's Office's iWatch Harris County free smart phone to provide e-mails, text message, photos or video to investigators. Tipsters calling Crime Stoppers or using iWatchHarrisCounty can do so anonymously.
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