HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, and Crime Stoppers of Houston CEO Rania Mankarious demanded justice for families experiencing gun violence in Houston during a news conference on Friday.
After a mother was killed and her 1-year-old son was injured during a shooting in west Houston on Thursday, Turner and Finner said they are doing everything to arrest the suspect.
Without mentioning his name, Turner said that the Houston Police Department is aware of the suspect’s identity and is actively searching for him.
On Thursday, 24-year-old Layla Steele was gunned down while holding her 1-year-old son named Zeus at the Apex at Royal Oaks apartment complex on Westpark Drive near Wilcrest Drive.
Layla’s mother, Shirley Steele, said it’s been hard for the family.
“We are not doing too good at all,” she said.
Police said Layla was shot four times and baby Zeus was shot in the ankle. Steele says baby Zeus is still in the hospital.
“He had surgery. He’s out of surgery and he’s recovering,” Steele said.
During the news conference on Friday, Turner said the suspect is believed to be the father of the child and is currently out on seven felony bonds, and is wearing an ankle monitor.
“Let me also acknowledge that any person who is out, for example, on a seven felony bond, is unacceptable. And there’s no real justification for anybody to be out on 5, 6, 7 felony bonds. So, let me just say that it needs to come to a stop. We’re all in this together,” Turner said.
Layla’s sister, Jazz Coulibaly, said the shooting could have been prevented.
“I feel like my sister could be here with me today had he been locked up,” Coulibaly said.
Police are currently working to locate the suspect.
“If the person is listening let me, I encourage you to turn yourself into the Houston Police Department,” Turner said on Friday.
Joined by family members of recent victims killed by gun violence in Houston, Turner also said a suspect has been arrested in the deadly southwest Houston shooting where a mother, father, and child were gunned down during a home invasion.
“It is important for people in our city to be able to recognize that when people are injured or killed, through violence, that we’re talking about families, and their lives have been permanently changed,” Turner said. “So, I’m going to be the first to extend my condolences and prayers to these two different families whose lives have been changed in the last 48 hours.”
Turner said the ongoing violence in Houston breaks down into four main categories: domestic violence, drugs and narcotics deals, violence and road rage.
He said, as a result, his office will provide an additional $2.1 million in overtime to the Houston Police Department to help them combat violence in our city. Turner also said there will be a sixth HPD cadet class added to the roster to help bring on more officers.
Mankarious also spoke at Friday’s news conference and said elected officials should work together to address the violence and stop releasing people on multiple felony bonds.
“Our research has now identified over 120, men, women, and children who have senselessly lost their lives. They’ve been killed because of these repeated releases. Of the over 120, an overwhelming majority would be classified as minorities, 15 were killed trying to flee from a domestic violence situation, and nine were children, and that number is rising,” Mankarious said.
Turner and Finner both agreed that much of the violence in Houston stems from the release of criminals who are out on violent bonds.
Turner said he’s working with several judges and courts to stop the release of these criminals.
Ahead of the holiday weekend, Turner said HPD’s presence will be enforced and additional resources will be added to help them combat violence.
Watch the full news conference below: