METRO shooting victim calls for increased safety, questions METRO commitment

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Jeff Berry never saw his assailant walking towards him and didn't realize he was shot until the gunman was melting back into the city streets.

Berry told 13 Investigates' Ted Oberg, "I thought somebody had somehow tossed some firecrackers onto my lap ... all I saw was smoke and red and some kind of embers or something like that. I stood up and I'm still wondering what the hell happened to me. I looked down and I saw a guy in a brown hoodie exiting the platform."

Berry was shot through both hands and legs. He says two of the bullets are still lodged in his thighs. A few fingers are still numb. He says doctors have told him it could take months to regain feeling and complete use of his left hand.

METRO surveillance video captured the shooting around 5:45 p.m. on May 8, but it doesn't give a good view of the shooter's face. It did capture the gunman's 'KILL YOU' T-shirt as he walked away leaving Berry bleeding and nearly alone on the platform during the evening rush hour.

What it doesn't show, and what Berry didn't see, is any METRO employees whatsoever. No METRO police officers were on or near the platform that afternoon, nor a fare inspector. In the five minutes Berry says it took for a police officer to arrive, the suspect melted away.

That afternoon Berry went for surgery. As he recovered, Berry researched METRO safety and came across a 13 Investigates piece from February 22.

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At the time, METRO Police Chief Vera Bumpers expressed concern about the perception of a lack of safety, promising uniformed METRO personnel were and would be visible.

On January 31, Chief Bumpers said, "If (commuters) are riding to and from work, they should expect to see somebody (in uniform) at least once on their commute when they're coming to work."

Bumpers said it could be a METRO police officer or fare inspector, but either way one of them should be visible at least once a day on METRO's main light rail lines.

Berry says that's not his experience. "Never, never really see any uniform presence. I mean, once every 10 trips I might see a cop get on the train. Twice, maybe three times a week."

System-wide, serious crimes are down in the last several months through April. METRO safety statistics show Berry was the only shooting victim on that platform that month, but he doesn't think he will ever ride again.

"It's not like I just lost my wallet or something. Hell, four times I was shot. It's a miracle I'm alive," Berry angrily told 13 Investigates. "The lack of safety is reality; not a perception on the METRO rail line. You're vulnerable there and I'm here to prove it to you."

METRO says safety is and will be a cornerstone of their expansion and current operation.

METRO police are still looking for the suspect.

Crime Stoppers may offer up to $5,000 for information leading to charges or an arrest in the case. You can report tips to 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submit them online at crime-stoppers.org. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
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