Hate crime? Texas man with history of domestic violence kills woman then self in hotel lobby

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HOUSTON, TX – A 27-year-old woman was gunned down by a 39-year-old man before he took his own life late Tuesday afternoon in a tragic murder-suicide in the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.

The couple arrived in the hotel lobby carrying luggage and appeared to be intent on checking into the hotel together, according to police.

Police said the couple arrived in the hotel lobby carrying luggage and appeared to be intent on checking into the hotel. Guests said the couple began arguing in the lobby and shots rang out.

Police said Jenna Soferberg was shot and killed by Sherrick Byrd before turning the gun on himself.

At a press conference after the shooting, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the crime did not appear random :

“The gentleman did come in at some point … shot the female and then immediately shot himself.”

“We do not think this is a random event or incident. We do believe–and we have reason to believe that there’s some type of relationship.

“Investigation is going to determine exactly what relationship it is. But, as I always say, this is tragic. We’ve got, apparently, two families affected here. It is a murder-suicide. The gentleman did come in at some point, shot the female, and then immediately shot himself.”

Chief Finner said the investigation would be completed rapidly:

“I want to pray for the victims, but also it’s on us as a police department, as the City of Houston and as businesses to get it back up and running. Doing an investigation– doing a complete investigation–getting this business up and running. They are still accepting guests.”

Court documents tell the story of a couple in a stormy relationship involving domestic violence and abuse.

Travis County court records show that Soferberg was brutally attacked by Byrd on June 13, 2018. Documents described the attack, saying police arrived and found her with both her eyes swollen shut, blood coming from a deep cut on her head, and bruises all over her body.

The victim reached out for help in 2019 after Byrd assaulted her outside an Austin Burger King. She escaped by locking herself in a restroom. He left only after employees threatened to call police.

One week after the assault, she filed for a protection order against Byrd. In court filings, she wrote about the Burger King assault and another assault in 2018:

“I want this protective order because I am afraid for my safety when Sherrick is around.

“The incident on July 4, 2019, showed me that Sherrick is erratic and aggressive, and I am afraid of future violence. I am scared of what could happen if Sherrick is allowed to be around me and I want this protective order to keep me safe.”

Tragically, the protection order was dismissed when the court could not find Byrd to serve him.

According to KHOU News, DPS records show he pleaded guilty to a lesser domestic violence charge in Travis County and was sentenced to 112 days in jail in May 2021.

In 2009, Byrd was convicted of the same charge in Denton County and served about six months in jail.

At some point, Soferberg moved to Atlanta. What remains unclear is why she returned to Houston.

What is clear is that she and Byrd arrived at the hotel in a separate car but were seen arguing in the lobby of the hotel moments before the shooting.

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Houston police release multiple body cam videos of deadly officer-involved shooting of armed gunman

June 4, 2021

 

HOUSTON, TX – Houston police have released multiple body camera videos of a deadly officer-involved shooting that occurred on May 21 in the city.

At about 1:30 a.m., an officer observed two vehicles speeding and heading south on Gessner Road. The officer followed the vehicles, getting behind a green pickup truck. Officers initiated at traffic stop with the truck along Bissonnet Street.

The officers made contacted with the man and woman inside the truck. The occupants stated that they were speeding to escape the scene of a shooting, where they said a vehicle was firing on another vehicle.

As the officers spoke with the occupants of the truck, a black male walked toward the position from a Shell gas station across the street. The male was later identified as 20-year-old Zaekwon Gullate.

One of the officers, Sgt. Ricardo Rivera walked toward Gullate asking if he needed anything and if he knew the occupants of the truck.

Video from Sgt. Rivera’s body camera show the man continue to walk toward him with his hands in his pockets. Gullate tells the officer, “Shoot me.”

The Sergeant drew his firearm and commanded that Gullate show his hands twice. The officer then asks what is in his hand. Gullate drew a firearm and Gullate ordered him, “Bro, put the gun down.”

 

Other officers on the scene then turn their attention to Gullate and also begin telling him to drop his gun.

Gullate pointed the gun at officers and fired at them. Rivera and three other officers returned fire striking Gullate.

After Gullate drops to the ground, Sgt. Rivera immediately asks if the occupants of the truck were alright, which they apparently were.

Officers began checking each other to determine if they were hit by Gullate’s shot while Sgt. Rivera maintained cover on the suspect. The sergeant also called for EMS over the radio.

Officers cautiously approached Gullate and secured the firearm. They then began providing medical aid until EMS arrived. Gullate was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The body camera video also included the view from other officers, identified as Officer McLemore, Officer Smajstrila, and Officer Alfaro.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said the videos were released within 30 days of the shooting following recommendations from a city task force tasked with making reforms following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.

During a news conference held to announce the release of the video, Chief Finner said:

“When there is an officer-involved shooting it’s so tragic for everybody involved, regardless of what happened, so look at it objectively and make sure we have healing in our community and make sure people come to the truth and because different people carry different narratives, that causes problems, that’s what frustrates me.”

“But every person has the right to think what they want to, but we’re going to do the right thing in Houston upon the mayor’s leadership, releasing this and we’ve been saying this and today, it’s here.” 

 

 

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