'Disgruntled' lawyer behind Houston shooting spree that injured 9 people

Six people are in hospital after a gunman opened fire near a Houston, Texas, shopping centre early Monday morning — firing randomly at passersby and commuters before he was shot and killed by police. Three others suffered minor injuries.

Gunman had numerous weapons, fired randomly at commuters before dawn, police say

Police investigate a car hit by gunfire during a shooting along Wesleyan at Law Street in Houston that left multiple people injured. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle/Associated Press)

A disgruntled lawyer who had numerous weapons randomly shot at drivers in a Houston neighbourhood Monday morning, hitting six people, one critically, before he was shot and killed by police, authorities said. Another three people had injuries from glass or debris.

The first report of the shootings came in about 6:30 a.m., interim police chief Martha Montalvo said at a news conference, and the suspect began firing at officers when they arrived. Montalvo did not identify the man; Mayor Sylvester Turner told KTRK-TV that the lawyer was "disgruntled" and was "either fired or had a bad relationship with this law firm."

Numerous weapons were found at the scene, and a bomb-squad robot examined a Porsche that's believed to be the shooter's, Montalvo said, adding that bomb squad officers were scouring the suspect's residence.

Homicide Capt. Dwayne Ready said the gunman was wearing military-style apparel, and some old Nazi emblems were among his personal effects at the scene, while vintage military items dating to the Civil War were found in his apartment.

2 legal guns

Authorities said the man had two legal guns, a .45-calibre semi-automatic handgun and a Tommy gun, as well more than 2,500 rounds of live ammunition at the scene.

Ready and Montalvo did not identify the man and did not have information about a motive.

Texas motor vehicle records in a commercially available database show that the Porsche police were searching at the scene is registered to Nathan DeSai, listed as living at the condo complex nearby. 

Police investigate the car believed to belong to the gunman, near the scene of Monday's shooting in Houston. The car contained 'numerous weapons,' according to interim police chief Martha Montalvo. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle/Associated Press)

The entrance to the condo complex, which is near the affluent enclave of West University Place, was still blocked off with police tape late Monday morning. Several cars with bullet holes and shattered windows were at a nearby strip mall.

Jennifer Molleda and her husband live in the same condo complex as the shooter. Though she heard gunshots about 6:12 a.m. and called 911, her husband left for work. The 45-year-old called not long after, and he told her "I'm hit, I'm hit."

After the shooting stopped at 7:15 a.m., Molleda found her husband, 49-year-old Alan Wakim, several blocks away in the parking lot of a nearby strip mall. His Mustang had two shots that went through the windshield, and he told her that he saw a red laser beam before the shots were fired. He was taken to a hospital to be treated.

'Average Joe'

"He got out of his car, we hugged, we cried," Molleda said, adding that after she saw everything she believes the man was "aiming to kill."

Molleda said she didn't know him very well, and described him as quiet. "He's a normal, average Joe," she said.

Area resident Jennifer Molleda looks at blood specked on the face of her husband, who was injured after two bullets went through his car's windshield. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle/Associated Press)

Jason Delgado, the property manager of The Oaks at West University condo complex, confirmed that police are going through a residence in the complex. He also said that there were two recent incidents involving the suspect.

In August, Delgado said, police were called after roofers working in the complex said he pointed an assault-style rifle at them. He said there wasn't enough evidence to move forward with charges because the suspect contended he didn't point the gun at roofers.

Molleda mentioned the same incident.

And last week, the man became upset because of water pressure problems at his home, asked for maintenance help and expressed his displeasure in an email to the management firm that implied he'd "intimidate his way to getting what he was asking for," Delgado said.

Another witness, 30-year-old Antwon Wilson, inadvertently drove into the shooting scene after dropping off his girlfriend at work and could "literally hear the gunfire flying." He managed to flee and escape injury.

At least 50 gunshots

Lee Williams left his home in the neighbourhood upon hearing gunshots and began directing traffic away from the condo complex, noting that people usually cut through the area to avoid busier intersections. One car ignored him, he said, and was immediately shot at. Williams couldn't see the gunman because it was dark, but believed he saw the muzzle flashes.

Law enforcement officers run toward the scene of the shooting, near an upscale shopping centre and a number of residential buildings. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle/Associated Press)

"Whatever cars were going by, he was shooting at them," the 55-year-old said, noting he heard at least 50 gunshots over 40 or so minutes. As he was being interviewed, neighbours came by and patted him on the back, thanking him for keeping people safe.

Of the nine people hurt, Houston Fire Department spokesman Ruy Lozano said six were shot and three had minor injuries related to glass. Montalvo said one person was hospitalized in critical condition and another in serious condition.

"The investigation is active. It's very, very early.… We are checking every angle, I can assure you," Turner told the TV station.