5 things for Houstonians to know for Thursday, September 16

Photo from SpaceX rocket launch on Sept. 15, 2021.
Photo from SpaceX rocket launch on Sept. 15, 2021.

Here are things to know for Thursday, September 16:

1. 4 people face capital murder charges after man shot to death at east Houston motel

Four people face capital murder charges after a man was shot to death at an east Houston motel.

Suspects John Gallegos, 27, Erica Pererira, 30, and Elizabeth Luna, 30, are charged with capital murder in the 208th State District Court, authorties said in a news release. The fourth suspect, Israel Ventura, remains at large. Ventura is charged with capital murder in the 174th State District Court.

The suspects are accused in the shooting death of Wilfredo Javier Rodriguez Almendarez, 34.

Read more.

2. Suspect’s defense attorney asks for ‘fair trial’ in shooting of New Orleans police detective, his friend

Frederick Jackson’s defense attorney is asking for a fair trial for his client.

Jackson, 19, is charged with capital murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the deadly shooting of New Orleans police detective Everett Briscoe at a Galleria restaurant.

Jackson is facing a second capital murder charge in which prosecutors are planning to present to a grand jury. Briscoe’s friend, Dyrin Riculfy, was also shot during the incident. He died from his injuries days later after being in critical condition.

Jackson’s attorney says the severity of the charges is just beginning to sink in. For capital murder, the punishment is life in prison or death.

“Everyone on the defense team, prayers go out to the families of both men. We’re simply trying to make sure that our client gets the fairest trial possible in a place that has not had a history of fair trials,” said Patrick McCann.

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3. ‘It’s senseless’: An inside look at UTMB’s COVID ICU unit in League City

Wednesday was another busy day inside the COVID unit at UTMB’s League City hospital.

Unfortunately, the staff said they’ve gotten used to considering days like this ordinary. There were patients coding, visitors crying, staff physically and emotionally drained. The difference this day, there’s a TV crew there to shoot it, and the staff seems thankful for that; they’re thankful the public will finally see inside the ICU and why they’re pleading to stop the spread of coronavirus.

While standing at the nurse’s station, KPRC 2 listens to one phone call about consulting a patient on DNR (do not resuscitate). This is a daily discussion and it wasn’t this common before the pandemic, they say. As of recently, the patients they’re talking about are younger, healthier, but still dying.

“People are 30s, 40s and they have young children and it’s senseless,” Leslie Avery, UTMB registered nurse, said.

Read more.

4. After multiplying for weeks, COVID-19 cases at many Houston area schools decreasing

COVID-19 cases at many Houston area school districts climbed and even multiplied for weeks, but throughout the region, caseloads are dropping dramatically.

The exceptions are Katy ISD and HISD, which started later than most, but even in those districts, less than one percent of students have active COVID-19 cases.

Conroe ISD “active COVID-19” cases are down by more than a thousand from a few weeks ago to just over 500.

Humble ISD numbers plummeted by nearly a thousand in recent weeks to 185 active student cases.

Tomball ISD is reporting 279 student and staff cases total. A dramatic drop from the first weeks of school. Also reported at Fort Bend ISD, where there are fewer than 400 active cases.

HISD cases are climbing, unfortunately, to 1,225 on Wednesday, spread between 280 plus schools. The most cases at one school are 28.

Katy ISD is reporting 800 cases, fewer than one percent of the district.

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5. SpaceX launches historic all-civilian crew on private Earth-circling trip

SpaceX’s first private flight streaked into orbit Wednesday night with two contest winners, a health care worker and their rich sponsor, the most ambitious leap yet in space tourism.

It was the first time a spacecraft circled Earth with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts.

“Punch it, SpaceX!” the flight’s billionaire leader, Jared Isaacman, urged moments before liftoff.

The Dragon capsule’s two men and two women are looking to spend three days going round and round the planet from an unusually high orbit — 100 miles (160 kilometers) higher than the International Space Station — before splashing down off the Florida coast this weekend.

It’s SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s first entry in the competition for space tourism dollars.

Read more.

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