Houston park ranger accused of targeting gay men appears before a judge, who grants him $30K bond

Wednesday, June 12, 2024
$30,000 bond set for Houston park ranger accused of targeting gay men
A Houston park ranger accused of targeting gay men at Cullen Park, allegedly using a gun to threaten a man, appeared before a judge on Wednesday.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A judge set a $30,000 bond for a Houston park ranger for allegedly targeting gay men in order to rob them.

On Tuesday, the alleged victim, Joshua Beede, told ABC13 he was asleep in his car in Cullen Park when 33-year-old Joey Lamar Ellis knocked on his window wearing a park ranger uniform.

Beede said Ellis threatened to arrest him if he didn't give up his cash or take off his clothes, making it known he had a gun in his pocket.

"He said he was going to have my car towed away. I was going to be arrested, sent downtown, and see a judge the next morning," Beede said.

Ellis also allegedly demanded Beede use a dating app to lure other men to the park so they, too, could presumably be robbed.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Houston park ranger accused of targeting gay men at Cullen Park for money

Only on ABC13, a victim is speaking out after he says a Houston Park Ranger demanded him to lure gay men to the park.

Eventually, Beede said he gave Ellis money and went along with it until he could get away to call 911.

"I was, like, fearful for my life, so I was doing everything he said," Beede explained.

ABC13 obtained audio of the dispatcher's radio call, where you can hear the disbelief in the officer's voice.

"So he made him strip naked? Yeah, he made the complainant strip naked, and I guess he ran over to the gas station," the officers can be heard saying.

Police responded and arrested Ellis, adding that they found a gun on him.

"He knew what he was doing though. He's probably done it before," Beede said. "He didn't look nervous doing it."

On Wednesday, Houston police told ABC13 they suspect there could be more victims and encouraged people to call 713-884-3131.

Ellis faces a charge of official oppression. He posted a $30,000 bond. The judge said Ellis is restricted to Harris and contiguous counties, cannot have access to drugs or firearms, and has a curfew from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department confirmed Tuesday that they were notified about the park ranger's arrest. On Wednesday, the department released the following statement:

"The Houston Parks and Recreation Department has been made aware of the arrest of Urban Park Ranger Joey Ellis. The Department has removed him from the work schedule at this time and the public can be assured that appropriate measures are being taken while HPD investigates."

City records show Ellis has been employed since 2019.