Man attacks clerks at Harris County Criminal Justice Center, officials say

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - An incident inside the Harris County Criminal Justice Center on Friday, caught on video, may pave the way for new security measures in the office.

A customer inside the clerk's office was able to jump over a partition and quickly access employees.

The scary incident, caught on a surveillance camera just before noon Friday, clearly shows the man becoming agitated during the transaction.

"He basically lost it, grabbed the stapler, tried to assault three of my court clerks, missed them, hit the wall," said Chris Daniel, district clerk.

Moments later, the man, identified as Valen Long, 18, is seen climbing over a small partition and rushing toward employees.

He throws several items, although nobody was hit or hurt during the incident.

"Yeah, that was a little unnerving," said Lori Baranowski, head cashier.

On the video, the man, finally calmed by a family member, gets on the ground and waits for police.

The incident appears to highlight a lack of security in the room. An adjacent clerk's office room has large windows and locked doors separating customers from clerks.

Daniel said Fridaythat  he wants more security in the office where the incident happened but budgets are tight, and ultimately, large scale security installations are decided by county commissioners.

"One option would be to have an officer in this area. Again, that costs money. And then the other option would be to have the banker style glass windows," Daniel said.

Long remained in custody Friday evening, charged with criminal mischief.

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