A Houston man who was being evicted from his home reportedly set fire to the building to lure his fellow tenants outside before shooting and killing three of them.
The man, who was not immediately identified but described as down-on-his-luck with medical and financial issues, was shot and killed by responding police officers during the early morning attack.
Police Chief Troy Finner told the Associated Press that authorities arrived at the apartment building around 1 a.m. on Sunday in southwest Houston.
Gunman Dressed In All Black, Reportedly Armed With A Shotgun Before Opening Fire On Fleeing Tenants
Finner added that the gunman, who was reportedly dressed in all black clothing and armed with a shotgun, opened fire as other tenants fled their homes, with two dying at the scene and another at a hospital shortly thereafter.
Two others were wounded and transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the outlet reports.
JUST IN: A man evicted from a Houston apartment building shot five other tenants, killing three of them, Sunday morning after setting the house on fire to lure them out, police said. Officers shot the gunman dead. #Houston pic.twitter.com/IcmWV1gBDa
— BNN Newsroom (@BNNBreaking) August 28, 2022
Michael James told local TV station KPRC that he was on his way home from work when he was shot in the back.
“I saw the house was on fire, and I saw flames, so I called 911,” James said. “I didn’t get through, so I turned my back and headed back out the driveway. And all of a sudden, boom.”
The suspect then began shooting at firefighters as they attempted to put out the fire, forcing them to take cover until police officers located and fatally shot the prone gunman, according to Finner.
No cops or firefighters were injured during Sunday morning’s deadly attack.
“I’ve seen things I have not seen before in 32 years, and it has happened time and time again,” Finner said. “We just ask that the community come together.”
— 10TV (@10TV) August 28, 2022
Robin Ahrens, a neighbor, told the Houston Chronicle that he thought he heard fireworks as he prepared for work, and didn’t initially pay it any mind.
“I’m just fortunate that I didn’t go outside because he probably would have shot me too,” he told the newspaper.
Shooter Described As Jobless Houston Man With Colon Cancer Who Recently Found Out About His Eviction
Ahrens said the gunman had colon cancer and was jobless and behind on rent when he was recently informed he was being evicted from his home.
“Something must have just hit him in the last couple of days really hard to where he just didn’t care,” Ahrens said of the shooter.
GSN- A man dressed all in black set fire to a multi-family residence in Houston early Sunday morning, then opened fire on the people as they ran outside, according to police. pic.twitter.com/FkM5D8ZWog
— HJ (Hank) Ellison (@hjtherealj) August 29, 2022
At a White House summit on building lasting eviction prevention reform earlier this month, President Joe Biden noted the need for an all-out effort to build lasting reform as funds for Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) begin to wind down.
Biden Administration Touts Efforts Of Eviction Diversion Programs, Cutting Eviction Rate In Half From 2019 to 2022
Texas, the site of Sunday’s attack, is one of several states that have recently adopted statewide eviction diversion programs. These efforts have cut the eviction rate in half, from nearly 30 percent in 2019 to 14 percent in 2022.
However, more than 900,000 renter households are still evicted from their homes each year, according to New America.
Renters enjoyed a respite during the coronavirus pandemic, when the federal government issued an eviction moratorium, but as of July 2022, there are no longer any statewide eviction bans in place.
Last week, The Shade Room reported that the Supreme Court made the decision to block the federal moratorium that halted evictions across the country during the pandemic, giving landlords the right to resume the eviction process despite tenants being affected by the pandemic.