Innocent woman carjacked and then dragged to her death on Uvalde Road in east Houston

The scene happened just several blocks down from a McDonald's where a purse-snatching victim died on Sept. 23.

Briana Conner Image
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Innocent woman dies when carjacker drags her in E. Houston
The scene happened just several blocks down from a McDonald's where a purse-snatching victim died on Sept. 25.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An innocent woman who was inside an SUV parked at a church in east Houston died when a robber, who held up an auto parts store nearby, carjacked the victim, took off with her inside, and then crashed, police said.

Family members at the scene identified the victim as Jessica Garza and told ABC13 that she was a mother.

Houston police said the robber-turned-carjacker is in custody after the chaotic ordeal happened in the 600 block of Uvalde Road. Police have not immediately identified the suspect.

According to police, multiple calls came in Tuesday at about 2:30 p.m. regarding a robbery and accident in the area. Officers were informed by witnesses of the person believed to have committed the robbery.

The suspect was arrested at Ralston Liquors, where employees said he held them hostage before officers arrived. Dashaundra Johnson said the suspect walked into the store and was tracking blood across the floor before telling her that she couldn't leave.

"I was like, 'Sir let us out. Let us out.' He was like 'No. Call the police. Call the police,'" Johnson recalled. "I tried to get past him, but he wouldn't move. So, I started hitting him with a stick. He started pulling on my arm trying to pull me back in."

People who saw what happened helped the employees escape. Johnson said she is glad the suspect was caught.

After detaining the person, officers learned the suspect earlier went into a business, robbed it and ran out as employees tried to go after him. According to police, the suspect ran across the street to a church where that person got into the vehicle with the victim in a passenger seat.

Police said the suspect tried pushing Garza out of the SUV, but Garza was still restrained by a seat belt and couldn't exit.

The suspect then drove four to five blocks up the street with Garza still trying to get out, and in the middle of this, the SUV hit five to six other vehicles.

The SUV ultimately crashed and came to a stop at a car wash. The suspect got out and took off on foot, but Garza died at the scene due to, according to police, the collision and her inability to get out of the vehicle.

An investigation by HPD homicide detectives is underway.

Lt. Larry Crowson of HPD added the carjacking suspect was connected to several robberies that were committed in that part of Harris County earlier in the day.

WATCH: Houston police give details on carjacking that led to innocent woman's death

Press play to listen to a press conference the Houston Police Department held after gathering more information on the crime. For the second time in five days, a violent crime that left an innocent woman dead has happened on Uvalde Road in east Houston.

The incident happened just five days after a robbery just blocks away at a McDonald's where a 71-year-old woman was the target of a purse snatcher who, according to Harris County Sheriff's Office, ran over and killed her.

SEE MORE: Victim dies after alleged purse-snatcher hits her during getaway

Martha Medina was leaving McDonald's when she was robbed and killed. Deputies believe she tried to take a photo of the suspect before she was killed. Now, the sheriff is calling out the suspect to do better.

Authorities are not saying whether the suspect in Tuesday's incident is tied to the purse-snatching. However, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez did tweet about the similarities between the crimes.

He said both victims were doing everything right. They were out in the daytime, and they weren't alone. Now, he said he is strategizing about how law enforcement can use crime reduction units, crime analysis, and community-oriented approaches to cut down on violence.

Gonzalez said it's also important to figure out what isn't working.

"We need to make sure that we correct some of those issues that need to be more effective. So there's a number of things we need to tackle, and these criminals need to stop," Gonzalez said. "I know it sounds cliché, 'Get a job,' and things like that, but there's resources out there. If you're struggling with addiction, if you need a job, if you need resources, there's plenty of resources out there."

The sheriff's office described the car in the Sept. 23 death as a 2017 or 2018 black Chevrolet Impala with chrome rims and dark tinted windows.