HOUSTON, TX – A couple caught in a terrifying street takeover in West Houston were lucky to escape with their lives after the 30-minute nightmare ended in gunfire. The incident was caught on video and has been circulated around social media.
A woman identified by Fox 26 News as “Betty”, her fiancé, and their dog were driving home early Sunday along Enclave Parkway at Forkland Drive. As they entered the intersection, the couple observed cars double-parked in the roadway, and they could not turn around.
A large crowd had gathered in the roadway and were watching vehicles doing donuts in the intersection. Betty described the situation:
“People getting out of their cars everywhere. It’s pretty surreal just to stop and not be able to do anything. Just a complete street takeover.”
This is why idgaf that cop ran over those street racers. Street takeovers are insanely dangerous and participants deserve no leniency. Not sorry. pic.twitter.com/EarevcM8Uh
— CC (@CCStrickland) January 25, 2021
Betty estimated that 30 to 40 cars were blocking the intersection, and as many as 100 people were in the roadway. Betty said she dropped her cell phone, causing it to illuminate inside her vehicle. That was when a man with a megaphone noticed them in the intersection. Betty said:
“All of a sudden, I picked up my phone. It lit up obviously because it dropped under the seat. The guy on the megaphone said, ‘She’s calling the police! She’s calling the police.’”
READING: Houston street mobs are just mocking HPD at this point https://t.co/RNf6cwH4tN
— Kevin Whited (@PubliusTX) January 28, 2021
Her fiancé told reporters that the crowd began surrounding their vehicle:
“The crowd figured out it was a Tesla and had cameras, and this was going to capture everything that was going on around them, and on top of that, they realized that we were calling the police. Sure enough, we did. And they were going to take it out on us, and weren’t going to let us through.”
The video shows the crowd shouting at the couple and banging on the vehicle and windows. The couple frantically searched for a direction to get away from the crowd. Betty said she thought she was going to die:
“Somebody broke our glass on our windshield. I was like we are going to die. This is our night. This is the night. I’m going to die.”
Betty’s fear was not unfounded. Once an opening formed, the couple’s vehicle pulled away rapidly. As they drove away from the crowd, one man could clearly be seen in the video firing a shot at them. The fiancé, who was driving, said:
“That was frightening, just scary. Just to see that for no reason whatsoever, for him to just shoot at us as we were trying to get out of the way; just literally get out of there.”
Dangerous moment caught on camera: It shows a gunman shooting a couple's vehicle as they tried to flee from a group of people who had shut down a west Houston street to perform car stunts. https://t.co/ZsL8jPVuAl #khou
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) January 27, 2021
Betty was thankful that her dog, who was in the back seat, was not struck by a bullet:
“If the bullet hadn’t changed its course it would have gone to my baby. I know she’s a dog, (but) she’s my world. It would have hit her and then it would have hit me in the passenger seat.”
The couple, who asked to remain anonymous, and their dog were not injured during the incident. Their vehicle did sustain damage.
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Street takeovers are planned events where people take over an intersection, blocking traffic so that cars can “drift” or do donuts in power and speed exhibitions. The phenomenon has been increasing in metropolitan areas in recent years and has become a particular problem in Houston.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said his department needs the public’s help to prevent street takeovers. Often, those responsible for a street takeover escape when the first police vehicles arrive. Having information in advance that a takeover was being planned would enable officers to respond more efficiently.
Chief Acevedo said:
“If you are aware a street takeover is being planned, please call us. Let us know ahead of time so we can have undercover assets and other assets in the area.
“We are going to have to do something in terms of arresting these people. Impound their cars … It’s a real problem.”
— /r/Houston Subreddit (@HoustonReddit) January 25, 2021
If you get caught in the middle of a street takeover, Chief Acevedo has some advice:
“Keep your doors locked, (and) get out of there as soon as you can. If you can, videotape what is going on, so we have evidence to go after these folks that are acting a fool.”
Houston police are asking anyone with information to call Houston Crimestoppers at 713-521-4600.
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) December 29, 2014
Houston is not the only city struggling with street takeovers. In June, LAPD Wilshire Division Captain Shannon Paulson warned that street takeovers were becoming a serious problem for police. In a weekly community update, Paulson wrote:
“One of the biggest concerns we have seen over the past month or so has been the re-emergence of Street Takeovers within the Wilshire area. I am aware these are happening virtually every weekend at some of our primary intersections.
“Police intervention of these activities is highly challenging, requires multiple police resources, and must be a coordinated endeavor, all of which takes time to facilitate. Unfortunately, the moment the first police vehicle or helicopter shows up on scene, the crowd will disband and head to another location.”
Captain Paulson created a warning program to send warnings from police to registered vehicle owners whose vehicles are observed at these events. Paulson asked any motorists or business owners who can record or photograph license numbers and vehicle descriptions during street takeovers to send the information to the police:
“While I cannot take legal enforcement action on those parties based on that kind of secondhand information, I can contact the registered owners to warn them of the multitude of civil and criminal liabilities involved in that behavior.
“I suspect there is a strong possibility some of those vehicles are actually owned by the parents of younger participants, so such a warning letter might get some results.”
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