Midtown residents concerned after armed robbery and shooting

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- When gunfire rang out from the front parking area of the Dolce Midtown apartments Monday night, Jake Gaston instinctively picked up the phone and called 911.

"We've had a tremendous uptick in activity like this -- robbery, muggings, car break-ins," said Gaston, who says he feels decidedly less safe the past few months.

Gaston attributes the increased problems to nearby bars that have opened up, but so far, Houston police say Monday night's shooting happened after the 31-year-old victim went to the mall to have some jewelry cleaned, and the shooters stole his watch.

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According to the Houston Police Department, the man was leaving the building when two men walked up to him and tried to rob him.

Investigators say the victim is expected to survive, though they have not arrested anyone for the brazen robbery yet.

"I feel unsafe sometimes when I let my dogs out," said the resident of another nearby Midtown apartment complex. "I was one of the first people to live in that apartment, and everything was so wonderful. It was such a great neighborhood, and I'm not sure what's changed."

Both the woman, who did not want her name used, and Gaston live in the Sutton Square subdivision just off West Gray. Besides Monday night's shooting, neighbors point to the stabbing death of a beloved fellow homeowner.

"Ben Pride was the guy who was murdered and he died in the middle of the street," said Gaston.

Pride was a beloved Montrose librarian, who was a common sight in his neighborhood. He was stabbed last June.

Then this past September, Houston Crime Stoppers made a push to remind people of this unsolved crime. So far, no arrests have been made.

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Ben Pride was walking home when he was attacked and killed. Now, his family and police are looking for the killer who is still on the loose and is believed to have Pride's laptop.

So has there been an actual increase in crime in the last few months? We looked at the data provided by Houston police for the 77019 zip code. From January until October of this year, the reports are pretty consistent. Every month, anywhere from 160 to 220 crimes are reported in the zip code. Those reports range from car thefts, to burglaries of buildings to violent crimes like aggravated assault.

While there may not be an obvious spike in crimes the last few months, it's clear that residents are on edge. With Pride's killer still somewhere out there, and a brazen shooting just across the street hours ago, neighbors say the raw numbers don't tell the whole story.

For Gaston, he's already made a decision about his future.

"I'm ready to go. If I could sell this house and only been here two years," he said. "I'm ready."

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