5 things for Houstonians to know for Wednesday, June 23

117 employees file lawsuit against Houston Methodist for mandating workers to take COVID-19 vaccine; deadline is June 7

Here are things to know for Wednesday, June 23:

1. Body discovered in SE Houston positively identified as missing tattoo artist, medical examiner says

An autopsy report confirmed that the body found in southeast Houston Saturday afternoon was that of a missing Houston man Julian Issac.

The Houston Medical Examiners Office positively identified the body Tuesday morning.

The 29-year-old tattoo artist was last seen Tuesday, June 15 on the 11700 block of Teaneck Drive.

According to police, a neighbor said around 1 p.m. Saturday they smelled an odor and thought it was a dead animal. Upon further investigation, they discovered the body.

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2. Samuel Olson: Theresa Balboa’s roommate charged, arrested in connection to 5-year-old’s death

Theresa Balboa’s roommate, the man who told investigators that he helped move Samuel Olson’s body to a storage unit in Webster, has now been charged in connection to the 5-year-old’s case, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Benjamin Rivera, 28, has since been charged with tampering with evidence - a human corpse in Samuel’s case. He was arrested Wednesday around 12:05 a.m.

Balboa, who was the girlfriend of Samuel’s father, has also been charged with tampering with evidence, a human corpse.

According to Balboa’s charging documents, Rivera revealed to investigators that he was called by Balboa on May 10 and was told that Samuel was dead. Rivera said he then left for work and later returned to the residence and found Samuel laying on the bed unresponsive, according to court documents. He said he noticed bruising on the child’s body, according to court documents.

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3. Charges dropped against 2 in deadly Austin shooting

Prosecutors are dropping criminal charges against two juveniles after police identified a different gunman in a mass shooting in downtown Austin that killed a tourist and wounded more than a dozen others, authorities said Tuesday.

Authorities have said the June 12 shooting on Austin’s 6th Street arose after an argument between two groups of teenagers from the nearby city of Killeen. Douglas John Kantor, 25, was killed by gunfire.

Police initially arrested 17-year-old Jeremiah Tabb on an aggravated assault charge and another juvenile, whose name wasn’t released. Tabb was charged as an adult.

Austin Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said Tuesday that investigators identified a different person, 19-year-old De’ondre White, as the shooter and a warrant for murder has been issued for his arrest.

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4. Houston Methodist says 153 employees who refused to get COVID-19 vaccine have resigned or been fired

More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine have been fired or resigned after a judge dismissed an employee lawsuit over the vaccine requirement.

A spokesperson for Houston Methodist hospital system said 153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period or were terminated on Tuesday.

The case over how far health care institutions can go to protect patients and others against the coronavirus has been closely watched. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S. But it won’t be the end of the debate.

Earlier this month, a federal judge threw out the lawsuit filed by 117 employees over the requirement. The hospital system’s decision in April to require the vaccine for workers made it the first major U.S. health care system to do so.

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5. Gov. Greg Abbott vetoes criminal justice bills, legislation to protect dogs, teach kids about domestic violence

Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed 20 bills that were passed during this year’s legislative session, including two criminal justice priorities of the House speaker, legislation that would have banned tethering dogs outside with heavy chains and a bill that would have required students to be taught about the perils of domestic violence.

The 20 bills in total that were vetoed mark the fewest made by Abbott since 2005. There were 1,073 bills passed by the Texas Legislature in total.

Abbott vetoed 13 bills authored by Democrats and seven by Republicans. 12 of the vetoes targeted bills that originated in the House, and eight were from the Senate.

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