Innocent mom and child caught in crossfire of catalytic converter conflict

Nick Natario Image
Friday, June 25, 2021
Mom and child caught in crossfire of catalytic converter conflict
Police said two men went after four suspected thieves, prompting a chaotic chase that put an innocent mom and child in danger.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two witnesses chased down catalytic converter theft suspects on Dairy Ashford near the Katy Freeway before a shooting Friday morning.

According to Houston police, the chase-turned-shooting started at about 9:30 a.m. when two men at a commercial business on Dairy Ashford noticed four suspects breaking into one of the men's trucks, stealing the catalytic converter.

An ABC13 photojournalist in the area captured video of multiple catalytic converters on the ground in a parking lot near the scene.

The owner of the gray Toyota pickup truck and a contractor in a white van engaged with the suspects, prompting them to take off.

The two witnesses chased the suspects down on Dairy Ashford, according to HPD.

At one point during the chase, the suspects turned around and started driving northbound in the southbound lanes of Dairy Ashford.

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Authorities recently said Texas has become a "hot spot" for catalytic converter thefts, so you might want to watch out.

That's when they crashed into a mother driving in a SUV with her child.

"This was a very dangerous situation, but we're proud to say that nobody was seriously injured here," HPD Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite said.

The suspects pulled into a parking lot after the crash, prompting the witnesses in the truck and van to follow.

An ABC13 crew captured the chaotic aftermath of a shooting that appeared to involved six people targeting a motorist on the Katy Freeway.

Unaware of the situation, the mother in the SUV also pulled into the parking lot after the crash.

Once in the parking lot, HPD said the two men used their vehicles to block the suspects in.

Realizing they were blocked in, the four suspects took off on foot toward a nearby hotel parking garage, Satterwhite said.

While fleeing, two of the suspects fired shots at the gray truck, with the mother and her child nearby, police said.

Video from the scene showed bullet holes in a gray pickup truck in the parking lot.

According to HPD, a Harris County Precinct 1 deputy constable at the gas station across the street saw the shooting and called for backup.

In total, Precinct 1, Precinct 5, Houston police, Department of Public Safety and SWAT officials all collaborated in controlling the scene.

Houston police secured a perimeter around the parking garage, where the four suspects eventually surrendered and were arrested.

Although officials initially believed there were six suspects, further investigation led them to believe there were only four, and all four were detained.

"The community should not feel alarmed that there's another suspect going around the property right now," Satterwhite said.

When asked about the theft victims that chased after the suspects, Satterwhite reminded Houstonians that it is always best to call police and avoid engagement with armed individuals.

"Property is not a reason to risk your life. We want people to be careful," Satterwhite said. "We don't want people to engage with armed suspects. We want them to call us... They are victims, it's the criminals that did this."

Satterwhite said the four suspects were all men in their 20s.

WATCH: ABC13's Courtney Fischer tells personal story of catalytic converter theft

WATCH: ABC13's Courtney Fischer unfortunately has a personal story when it comes to catalytic converter theft. Hear what she has to say about noticing the part is gone and how you can protect yourself.

He emphasized that HPD is taking catalytic converter thefts very seriously, noting that they believe a lot of the thefts stem from organized crime.

"The catalytic converter thefts we have going on in this city, and frankly the country, a lot of it is organized," Satterwhite said. "It's a huge problem and we are looking at every part of it."

He said investigators are not only looking at theft suspects, but also individuals who are buying stolen parts.

"As a nation, we are facing some real problems right now, especially when it comes to violent crime. The police departments across the country, we are doing everything we can. We're collaborating. We're coordinating," he said. "We're just as concerned and alarmed as you are."

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