Two suspects have been charged in connection with a shooting at a house party in suburban Houston that left two teenagers dead and injured 19 others, authorities announced Monday.
However, court documents indicate the deadly shooting might not have started as a result of celebratory gunfire as initially indicated by law enforcement officials. Instead it apparently began when the suspects shot at two individuals before then firing into the crowd.
Willie Young, 21, and Randy Stewart, 18, were arrested Monday morning, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Young is charged with deadly conduct, while Stewart is charged with aggravated assault. Bail for each suspect was set at $250,000. Court records did not indicate whether Young or Stewart has an attorney.
The victim killed at the scene has been identified as Qu'eric Richardson, 17. The name of the other victim, a 16-year-old girl who died at a hospital, has not been released.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia had previously said Saturday's shooting in Cypress, an unincorporated area about 25 miles northwest of Houston, began when someone fired a pistol in the air in celebration.
In the ensuing confusion, someone else began firing into the crowd, causing people to flee into the narrow street, Garcia said. Officials said more than 100 people were at the party, which was promoted openly on several social media sites.
But according to probable cause affidavits for Young and Stewart, two of the people at the party say the suspects initially began firing at them.
Dominic Adams said that after Stewart entered the home, Stewart "pulled out a handgun, pointed it at him and discharged the weapon."
Adams "was struck in the arm. [Adams] stated that the defendant began randomly shooting into the crowd," according to Stewart's probable cause affidavit.
The affidavit related to Young presented as similar scenario.
Jamario Wilson, another partygoer, told investigators he saw Young in the home's living room when Young pulled out a handgun and began firing in his direction. Wilson said Young also began "randomly shooting" into the crowd. It didn't appear Wilson was injured.
Both Adams and Wilson said they knew the suspects "from the neighbourhood."
Sheriff's officials did not immediately return a phone call or emails seeking clarification on how the shooting began.
In September, Stewart pleaded guilty to making a terroristic threat — a misdemeanour — after being part of a group that in December assaulted and then threatened to kill a student at Cypress Woods High School. Stewart was sentenced to five days in jail. Last month, Stewart was charged with check forgery.
Young was arrested earlier this year for evading arrest but the charge was later dropped.
Monday's arrests came on the same day school officials said security will be boosted and grief counsellors provided for students at a school where one of the slain teens was enrolled.
Katy school district spokesman Steve Stanford said Richardson was a student at Morton Ranch High School.
Stanford said some students at the school were among the more than 100 who attended the party in nearby Cypress. He said school district police will increase patrols so that officers are more visible this week.