'That's ended': HPD vows to reduce crime in Midtown following 2 shootings at gas station in a week

Mycah Hatfield Image
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
HPD vows to beef up patrols to combat Midtown crime after ABC13 report
Houston police are prioritizing lowering crime in Midtown following a fatal shooting inside a convenience store that ABC13 reported on Monday.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After watching an interview on ABC13 at 10 p.m. Monday with a frustrated store manager whose store turned into a murder scene earlier that day, Houston police Chief Troy Finner stopped by the following morning.

Finner met with the manager, Sami Fardeen, and discussed plans to reduce crime in the area.

"I've talked to him about some things that the police department is going to do, but also some things that the store can do to help us help them and help this area," Finner said. "But a message to everybody, those individuals hanging out, some not doing crime just hanging out, some doing crime - that's ended."

On Monday afternoon, a man was shot inside the convenience store near Fannin and Gray and later died at the hospital. Surveillance video shows a large group of people standing inside the store when the man who died started physically attacking the suspect. The suspect ends up exiting the store, pulling out a gun, and firing into the store. He then enters the store and continues firing.

The suspect in the case has not been caught.

READ MORE: Gunman shoots into Midtown convenience store, killing 1 and grazing another, police say

Video obtained by Eyewitness News shows when glass shattered as a gunman shot into a Midtown store and killed one person.

Monday's shooting is the second in a week at that location.

"Nobody wants to come to my gas station now because people are getting shot," Fardeen said.

The strip center has been battling issues for years, according to Loyd Neal, the attorney representing both the convenience store and property owners.

The property owner has been sued twice by the City of Houston under the nuisance ordinance. Both times, the owner prevailed.

The owner said he wants to regain control of the property from the homeless people and vagrants but has no authority.

He said about 40 people live on the property daily.

They consistently deal with people urinating and defecating on the premises and graffiti regularly showing up on the building.

Additionally, crime statistics through HPD show car thefts, shootings, robberies, and drug problems in the area.

Owners have installed security cameras and high-intensity lighting and have hired an armed security guard. The crime persists.

RELATED: ABC13 looks at where crime rate is up and down in Houston following 1 weekend with no homicides

The guard was present during Monday's shooting and has since quit.

The property owner recently asked Neal to help draft a letter to the city asking for help.

"We go by there every couple of days to take videos and take pictures of the property so we can demonstrate to the city leaders what a huge problem we have, and while we were in the process of gathering this information, (Monday's) shooting occurred," Neal said. "Now the store owner is having trouble even getting employees who want to go back to work, and I'm not sure I blame them."

Neal said it has risen to the level of a crisis.

Tenants are moving out of the property, and the owner cannot fill the empty spaces.

In the past, Neal said they worked with a council member to increase HPD patrols in the area and noticed a dramatic drop in crime. He said the patrols lasted about a year and a half, and when they stopped, crime increased again.

Finner increased patrols of the area on Tuesday. He said they would have marked units and undercover officers in the area. He also plans to include outreach services for the homeless in the efforts.

"We're not going to stand by in our city and let people take over, so you will see some results," Finner said.

The efforts will be the new order of business moving forward, according to the chief, and will not last only a few weeks.

ABC13 reached out to the City of Houston to find out if they plan to file another nuisance lawsuit against the property and is waiting for a response.

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