HOUSTON (November 12, 2013) Authorities are looking for at least two more suspects gunmen in a weekend house party shooting in Cypress that left two teenagers dead and 19 others injured, prosecutor Katherine McDaniel said Tuesday.
The shooting might have been part of a gang dispute, she said, which contradicts initial statements by authorities that the deadly shooting Saturday was the result of celebratory gunfire.
McDaniel spoke before an expected court appearance Tuesday morning by two men whom deputies arrested Monday.
Harris County sheriff’s deputies made the two arrests Monday morning in the shooting rampage late Saturday night at a birthday party that left Queric Richardson, 17, and a 16-year-old girl dead and nearly 20 other people injured.
Willie Young, 21, was charged with deadly conduct and Randy Stewart, 18, was charged with aggravated assault.
The charge against Young was dropped Tuesday, however, after investigators interviewed party-goers who contradicted earlier statements from witnesses who claimed they saw Young fire a weapon.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said Monday the shooting started after someone fired a pistol in the air during a birthday celebration.
In the ensuing confusion, someone else began firing into the crowd, forcing party-goers to flee into the narrow street, he said.
Richardson, 17, died at the scene and the girl, whose name has not been released, died at a hospital.
Richardson was a student at Morton Ranch High School in the Katy ISD, school district spokesman Steve Stanford said Monday.
Other students from the high school also were among the 100 people who attended the party in nearby Cypress, Stanford said.
Many of the injured victims were shot, but some suffered such injuries as fractures and twisted ankles in the panic to escape.
Garcia said it was a "birthday party gone wild" and chastised the party organizers, who spread word about the gathering on social media, saying "you have no control on who to expect at your door."
Sheriff's spokesman Thomas Gilliland said deputies were confronted with "mass chaos" when they arrived at the home in a residential neighborhood about 25 miles northwest of Houston, adding that "kids were literally everywhere."
He said witnesses reported that some partygoers jumped from the second floor in their scramble to flee.
Mariah Boulden, 18, told the Houston Chronicle it was her birthday party.
She said her brother and others were patting down people as they entered her home.
Two men refused to be searched and walked away, she told the newspaper, then apparently hopped a neighbor's fence and entered through a back gate.
"They wasn't supposed to be here whoever they was," Boulden said.
Brown said word about the party was spread through Instagram, a photo-sharing app and website.
She said she first heard gunshots in the house and they continued outside as people ran into the streets seeking cover.
Pools of blood were visible outside the two-story brick home Sunday, and the garage door was bent after people had pushed it upward while trying to escape.
Karen Briones was visiting relatives in the neighborhood.
"Girls were crying and screaming, banging on people's doors asking them for help and to call 911," she told the Chronicle.
The sheriff's statement said those hurt were taken to at least five area medical centers or hospitals, some by paramedics and some in private vehicles.
Gilliland said some people were shot in the foot, ankle and hip.
Bruno Figueroa lives a few houses down the street and said he heard five to 10 shots.
He looked out his window and saw a crowd of at least 30 people running down his street.
"Kids were running everywhere," he said.
Figueroa said people suddenly began ducking into back yards and behind vehicles in driveways, apparently trying to hide from a car that was slowly coming down the street. Figueroa said that from his upstairs window he could hear the people who were hiding nearby.
"They were crying, yelling, 'My brother got shot,' 'Why did they do this?'" he said.
Figueroa said as soon as the slow-moving car rounded a corner and then sped away, the people who had been hiding gathered back in the street.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Christina Garza told the Chronicle that at least one parent was in the house. Gilliland said investigators were trying to determine if alcohol had been served at the party.