Increased police patrols coming to Third Ward after shooting caught on camera: 'It's not surprising'

Nick Natario Image
Friday, April 26, 2024
Third Ward crime: Increased police patrols coming to Houston neighborhood following shooting captured on camera
After dozens of bullets rang out in a Third Ward neighborhood, Houston's top cop will soon patrol those streets.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After a homeowner's camera captured dozens of gunshots being fired in a Third Ward neighborhood, increased patrols are coming, including from Houston's top cop.

Overnight on Monday, Houston Police Department officers said someone opened fire at the intersection of Arbor and Emancipation. And it was caught on camera.

It was a terrifying sight that Jimmy Swayn said is too common.

"We grew up around here," Swayn said. "We're used to the gunshots. We're used to the violence and killings."

Swayn owns J78togo, a food truck located just blocks away from this week's shooting.

RELATED: More than 30 shots ring out in Third Ward neighborhood where residents weary of recent shootings

A man was shot multiple times while driving on Emancipation Avenue in Houston's Third Ward overnight, police said. He ran to a nearby club for help.

"It's not surprising," Swayn explained. "What's surprising is our streets are protected by law enforcement. That's what's more upsetting that we don't have the protection that we need."

It's a message message heard by HPD. After the shooting, Chief Troy Finner said more officers would be patrolling, including himself.

"You'll see the chief of police and other team members with our feet on the ground out there working with those residents," Finner said.

It was a response that doesn't surprise some who are working to better the area. MacGregor Super Neighborhood President Tomaro Bell said Finner's actions are comforting.

"I know people say, 'We don't see officers.' We cannot say that," Bell explained. When we scream for help, between Constable May Walker's Office, Precinct 7, and HPD, we get the help we need."

13 Investigates' analysis of HPD crime data over the last five years shows the top crimes in the Third Ward neighborhood: theft, simple assault, vandalism, aggravated assault, drug-related charges, and burglary.

ABC13's Neighborhood Safety Tracker shows that the number of assaults is higher in the area than in other parts of the city. There were 643 assaults four years ago.

Two years ago, there were nearly 700. Last year, the number fell to 650.

While it shows fewer crimes, neighbors said nightlife is an issue, and without enhancements, there could be more shootings.

"Bullets don't have names on them," Bell said. "They don't. You're just shooting. Those are houses on the side of you. Those aren't empty buildings. That's why we're deeply concerned about this."

RELATED: 'When the clubs are full, it spills over': Nearby bars blamed for Third Ward neighborhood crime

Neighbors in Third Ward blame the nearby strip of bars for the uptick in burglaries, shootings, and auto thefts on Emancipation Avenue.

Neighbors say HPD told them they plan to start the increased patrols within days. During a public safety meeting on Thursday, they also heard from Councilwoman Carolyn Evans-Shabazz. Bell said she told them she was working on putting cameras and lights up in the area.

Evans-Shabazz sent ABC13 the following statement:

"The turnout at our townhall meeting was remarkable. With only two days' notice, the community's response was immediate and robust, a true reflection of the spirit of District D. Joined by Director Herbert Sims, in his first day on the job, and other dedicated city officials and community leaders, we stood united in the face of our challenges.

Notably, we were supported by Fire Chief Pena, Executive Assistant Chief Satterwhite, and esteemed leaders from TIRZ, Management District, SuperNeighborhoods, and civic clubs. Additional backing came from TSU Police Chief, the CEO of YWCA Houston Gizette Thomas, Smoke Phillips - our future constable, Former Councilmember Mike Knox, and Deputy Inspector General for Police Reform and Accountability Christina Novak. This impressive assembly underscores that we are stronger together, ready to tackle our challenges head-on.

We heard from the community and shared in their concerns, yet what leaves me most hopeful is the unified stance against crime and the shared commitment to creating a safe environment for all.
Last night was not just a meeting; it was a clear display of our district's resolve, and it's this proactive engagement that will indeed make us the District of Destination. For those considering crime, tonight showed that you are on notice.

We are also taking concrete steps to enhance safety in our district. I have allocated Council District Service Funds towards the purchase of Flock safety cameras. Both the Management District and the Department of Neighborhoods have committed to matching this investment to expand our coverage. Furthermore, in collaboration with Houston Public Works and HPD, we are conducting a comprehensive assessment of our streets to determine where additional lighting is needed and where tree canopies should be trimmed to improve visibility and safety."

Neighbors hope the new technology won't be too far behind. It's the technology, they say, that may not only help deter crime but, when it happens, show officers where they're needed in this community.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, X and Instagram.