Police have arrested two teenagers who they say robbed and sexually assaulted a woman and committed several other robberies at the Terry Hershey Park Hike and Bike Trail on Houston’s west side.
Damontres Darnell Mitchell and Jassan Rashaad Hughes, both 18 years old, are each charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Houston police said since December 14, there have been a series of aggravated robberies and one sexual assault at the park.
According to police, the suspects were described as two black men in their late teens, wearing ski masks or bandannas on their faces. During each incident, police said the suspects were armed and demanded property from the victims.
Houston police said during their investigation, officers identified Mitchell as a possible suspect. On Monday, officers located Mitchell driving a stolen vehicle taken in an aggravated robbery on January 3 near the park.
Investigators said Mitchell took off and led police on a short chase. He was eventually arrested.
Police said the passenger in the vehicle was identified as Hughes, who also took off running once the vehicle stopped. He was later taken into custody.
Officials said a woman was also riding in the car at the time. Police do not believe she is involved in the park incidents.
Upon further investigation, investigators charged Mitchell and Hughes in the January 3 sexual assault of a woman who was jogging in the park.
Police also believe the suspects are responsible for the following robberies near Terry Hershey Park:
- 600 Nottingham Oaks Trail about 11 p.m. on December 14
- 14800 Broadgreen about 10:15 a.m. on December 16
- 14814 Perthshire about 10:30 p.m. on January 3
- 1000 S. Dairy Ashford about 4:35 p.m. on January 5
- 15200 Memorial Drive about 5 p.m. on January 5
- 1000 Dairy Ashford about 9:25 a.m. on January 6
Ten years on the job as a pizza delivery man working nights, Artaches Karoglanian has been the target of many crimes. He said nothing proved quite as terrifying as facing Mitchell and Hughes.
"I get robbed many times," said Karoglanian, "but this time it was very bad."
Police believe Karoglanian is one of many victims.
Karoglanian said Mitchell and Hughes preyed on him as he tried to deliver a pizza to the men at the Sheffield Square Apartments.
"Two guys they came out with guns," said Karoglanian.
Karoglanian said both robbers put pistols to his head and demanded all of his belongings.
"[They said] give me keys. Give me cell phone. Give me money. I give everything," said Karoglanian.
Karoglanian said one robber shoved the gun in his back and walked him several blocks away from the apartments, then let him go but kept his car. Karoglanian ran back to his pizza shop and called police.
Investigators said a tip led them to Mitchell and Hughes three days later still in the stolen car. After a chase, both were pulled from the car and arrested. Prosecutors said the men ended up confessing to the robberies and rape.
"They said it was pretty much an opportunity crime," said Sgt. Cathy Richards, "and when they would come across a person, they just decided to go ahead and commit the robbery."
Karoglanian got his car back. He said knowing the suspects have been arrested and charged makes it easier for him to return to work.
"I don't have any problem," said Karoglanian. "It's good now."
During their first appearance in front of a judge, a Harris County prosecutor talked about the rape of a woman inside a park bathroom.
The prosecutor said, “While she was in the restroom, they both pointed guns at her."
The prosecutor said the two stole her watch, which she said, was later pawned.
The prosecutor continued, "Defendant Mitchell then told her to take off all of her clothes. Complainant complied. Defendant Mitchell told her he would kill her if she didn't cooperate."
Prosecutors said the two confessed to involvement in the sex assault and to robbing six people in or near the park.
"They said it was pretty much an opportunity crime. And when they would come across a person, they just decided to go ahead and commit the robbery," said Sgt. Cathy Richards of the Houston Police Department.
She said, "They definitely targeted people down there on the hike and bike trail. I don't know if they knew that they were vulnerable at that point, and they didn't have anything on them except for a phone, jewelry or something. I'm not sure exactly they were looking for.”