HOUSTON – Houston police eventually found the wanted felon they were looking for in southeast Houston, but not before targeting the wrong house on the next block.
At least a half dozen officers surrounded the Sotelo family home chain-link fence late Saturday afternoon, several family members and other witnesses said.
The lead officer insisted that a fugitive was inside, and Richard Sotelo disagreed.
“How are you telling me somebody’s in my house?” Sotelo said. “I’ve been here all day” with his wife, Sara, and their three children.
“He stood here for about five minutes telling me that they were going to search every room in my house,” Sotelo added.
The family decided they would allow the officers inside the home, but one of the family dogs, a rescue pit bull named Sadie, kept barking.
“The officer had a gun to my dog’s head,” said Mercedes Sotelo, a high school senior.
“I didn’t want them to shoot anybody, especially didn’t want them to shoot my dogs,” said her brother, fifth-grader Cash Sotelo.
A Houston police spokesperson said a tip from a private investigator led officers to the Sotelo home. When they learned the PI had given them the wrong address, they left.
The spokesperson called the operation a “knock and talk” and said no warrant was involved.
The Sotelos said after surrounding their house, falsely accusing them, and threatening to shoot their dog, the officers never apologized.
“No apology, no explanation,” Sotelo said. “(Not) even just an explanation.”
“I was going to let them in anyway, I don’t care, I don’t have anything to hide,” he added. “Say ‘Hey guys, you know, we messed up, (and) it would have been over.”
Instead, family members said they were left traumatized.
“It doesn’t sit well with me. It never will because now I’m scared,” Sara Sotelo said. “I’m looking out the window; my husband and I can’t sleep.”