HOUSTON – After a days-long crime spree that included several killings, aggravated robbery, attempted murder and a home invasion in the Cypress area, a man believed to be connected to the crimes was captured and charged Monday, police said.
Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies chased Jose Gilberto Rodriguez, 46, through the Cypress area before the chase ended on North Eldridge Parkway and Wortham Landing Drive, officials said.
Rodriguez was taken into custody. He was charged with two counts of murder for the deaths of Pamela Johnson, who was found dead in her Cypress home, and a Mattress One employee in north Houston, officials said. He is being held in the Harris County Jail with no bond.
The third murder charge, for the death of a Mattress Firm employee in northwest Harris County, is pending until Wednesday, officials said.
No one was injured when Rodriguez was taken into custody.
A Channel 2 photographer witnessed the incident unfold. Cesar Martinez was shooting video outside a home on Foxburo Drive, where a home invasion Rodriguez is suspected to have committed took place. Martinez said he saw a person fitting Rodriguez's description drive by slowly in a gray vehicle.
“This Nissan comes rolling up and this guy looks straight at me and I’m like, ‘He looks like the guy.' So I started shooting (video of) him.” Martinez said. "I didn’t see a guy who was nervous, a guy who was being hunted. He was just casually driving through the neighborhood.”
Martinez said that once deputies started chasing Rodriguez, he pulled over briefly and then sped away.
“They’re passing stop signs. They’re passing lights up, they’re speeding down the side roads, going in and out of the neighborhood,” Martinez said.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office said Deputy Jorge Reyes and his partner had been canvassing the area after two residents reported a suspicious person in the neighborhood when they spotted Rodriguez's vehicle within two minutes.
Reyes said they chased Rodriguez down and cornered him before taking him in.
"I knew the whole community wanted this guy to be contained, not on the loose," he said. "So when I left my house last night before this shift, I told my wife, 'I'm a catch him' and sure enough, I did."
Investigators said they believe Rodriguez was casing the area where his parents live for his next victim because a gun was found in the Nissan he was driving. Police said there have been reports of Rodriguez knocking on residents' doors in the area before he was caught.
“I thank God it came out the way it did because knowing what this guy did, knowing what this guy is capable of, I’m just lucky, I’m just lucky he didn't want to do anything to me,” Martinez said.
Police said Rodriguez, who was on parole, cut off his ankle monitoring system before the crime spree began.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said his department and other local law enforcement officials are coming down on parolees in the Houston area.
"Two things community needs to know: We are going to be flies on stink on parolees. They are not going to like living here unless they want to be responsible members of the community," Acevedo said.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is asking for the public's help to determine if Rodriguez can be connected to other crimes in the area.
The first aggravated robbery police said Rodriguez is connected to was a home invasion on July 9 in the 12000 block of Foxburo Drive.
The body of 62-year-old Pamela Johnson was found at a home in the 12400 block of Bent Pine Drive. Her body was tied up when it was found, according to authorities. After being taken from the scene Friday, Johnson's 2004 maroon PT Cruiser was found Saturday at Willowbrook Mall.
Gonzalez said the community can help find Rodriguez.
"The Houston community has always risen and provided information just like they did when they helped us recover the PT Cruiser over the weekend," Gonzalez said.
A Mattress Firm employee was found dead in the back of a northwest Houston store Saturday. Police said Allie Barrow, 28, was shot in the head. A manager discovered her body in the store at The Commons shopping center at 7592 West FM 1960, near Tomball Parkway.
Rodriguez is considered a person of interest in her death.
Another deadly shooting happened Monday afternoon at a north Houston Mattress One. Edward Magana, an employee of the Northline Commons store at I-45 North Freeway and East Crosstimbers Street, was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said Rodriguez is a person of interest in the shooting. A photo of Magana is below.
Magana was killed on Monday shortly after his lunch break.
Here is a link to a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.
The three victims were killed in a similar way, police said.
Authorities said earlier Monday that a METRO driver was robbed and shot near a gas station on the Eastex Freeway. The driver was shot in the torso and taken to a hospital. His condition was unknown. Rodriguez is considered a person of interest in the incident.
Here is a statement from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Rodriguez's arrest:
“The investigation and vehicle pursuit that led to the arrest of capital murder suspect Jose Rodriguez, 46, today was the result of great work by the Houston Police Department, along with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement partners. Rodriguez is suspected of killing at least three people in separate incidents in the Houston area. I extend the city’s deepest condolences to the victims’ survivors. We should never lose sight of the fact that first responders risk their lives every day to keep us safe.”