Here are things to know for Thursday, March 18:
1. Outgoing HPD Chief’s Message to Houston: ‘Get ready for 500 murders
HPD Chief Art Acevedo made a grim proclamation for the City of Houston on Tuesday, “Get ready for 500 murders,” said Acevedo during an afternoon news conference at HPD headquarters.
Acevedo admitting his strategy to combat homicides in Houston is not working, resulting in another record year for killings, “Get ready for 500 murders at the rate this is going.”
When reminded by KPRC 2 Investigates Mario Diaz that the rise in homicides is happening under his watch, Acevedo said, “Ok, it’s under my watch, Mario and I’ll be gone, and bring in the best chief, bring in any chief .. but I’ve got a prediction.”
Acevedo was in no mood to address tough questions regarding skyrocketing homicides during his tenure. Houston has seen a meteoric rise of over 500 since the start of 2020, with some wondering if Acevedo’s departure to the much smaller city of Miami is simply a cut and run by the chief.
2. Family of 83-year-old man who died during winter storm files wrongful death lawsuit against CenterPoint Energy
At 83-years-old, James Thomas Jones was a beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather.
He was a former technician who worked in the oil industry and a man who battled COPD, a serious lung ailment that required for him to breathe with the help of an electric respirator.
During Houston’s historic winter storm last month, the Katy home that James lived in with his daughter and son-in-law lost power and later Jones eventually died.
Now, Pamela Bunkley, Jones’ daughter, and her husband are suing CenterPoint Energy for wrongful death.
3. 90 million stimulus check payments have been sent out, totaling $242 billion, IRS says
The Treasury Department says it has sent out 90 million economic impact payments totaling $242 billion since President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief plan last week.
The bulk of those payments were made by the IRS as direct deposits, which recipients starting seeing in their bank accounts last weekend, officials said Wednesday.
In addition, Treasury has mailed out roughly 150,000 checks worth about $442 million.
Processing of the payments began last Friday, the day after Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which authorized direct payments of up to $1,400 to qualifying individuals.
4. Houston attorney Tony Buzbee says he’s handling additional cases alleging assault by Texan QB Deshaun Watson
On Wednesday night, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee says a third case will be filed alleging misconduct by Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Buzbee filled the second lawsuit early Wednesday but said the third one is the “most egregious” to date. In a social media post, Buzbee said his team would file the third of what now is six cases on behalf of women against Watson.
“Our staff has received numerous calls. We screen each one, and I personally talk with and screen any individual on whose behalf we file. I’ve been doing this a long time. I don’t need ‘fame,’ and, to be quite honest, and I say this as modestly as I can, if I never made another penny I would be quite okay. Point is, I’m not pursuing these cases for the money, and every woman who has filed thus far has only plead the minimum amount to invoke the court’s jurisdiction ($500). This isn’t about the money,” the Buzbee’s post read, in part.
5. Woman says man exposed himself to her while she was walking in The Heights
One Heights resident wants to warn others about her horrific encounter during her Sunday walk.
Lauren Hammelman said a man followed her in a car and then exposed himself and yelled inappropriate things to her before taking off.
Hammel said it was around 5:30 p.m. when she was walking down Arlington and had just passed 14th Street with her three dogs.
“[The driver] pulled up in front of me, opened the car door, and he didn’t have any pants on and he’s pleasuring himself and also says, ‘I want to [expletive] you,’ " Hammelman said. “I screamed and ran away with all three dogs.”