Caught on camera in 2021: Videos offer glimpse at Houston area’s year in crime

When criminals assumed no one was watching, bodycams, cellphones, security cameras and dashcams captured their brazen misdeeds

Houston crimes captured on camera in 2021 (Images provided by HPD)

Here, we take a look back at some of the most outlandish crimes captured on camera in our area during this particular calendar year.

Among them, road rage incidents, catalytic converter thefts, aggravated robberies, an inmate’s escape from a moving transport bus, and one woman’s refusal to “put a face diaper on” whilst at a Galveston bank and, several days later, at a Texas City Office Depot.

Man out on bond for road rage shooting attempts to punch truck driver on North Freeway

The road rage incident on the North Freeway near Kuykendahl unfolded in a matter of seconds, as captured on the victim’s dashcam.

On Oct. 15, a silver SUV swerved in front of a commercial truck. The hostile driver slammed on the brakes, forcing the heavy truck to a standstill as traffic sped down the freeway.

The angry driver swung his door wide open. As he got out, the delivery truck’s dash camera captured his furious gestures at the delivery driver before approaching the truck. Cabin footage shows the delivery driver appearing to speak with the car driver for a moment.

The truck’s dash cam captured the angry driver swing open his car door, making furious gestures as he approached the truck driver. Footage from inside the cabin shows the driver appear to talk with the hostile driver moments before he yanked open the driver-side door, grabbed the delivery driver’s arm and lurched at his face. The car driver then slammed the door. And the truck’s cabin rocked violently from an unseen force as the delivery driver grinned in sheer bewilderment at the car driver’s outburst.

Stephen Sahr, 41, was later taken into custody and charged with assault and deadly conduct for the aforementioned outburst. When the road rage incident occurred Sahr was free on bond on another road rage charge, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Sahr was arrested in May after being accused of firing a shotgun in a road rage confrontation on the Eastex Freeway.

Inmate’s escape from transport bus in Houston captured on camera

Federal authorities shared video of an inmate who managed to escape a vehicle while in custody.

An inmate’s September escape from a transport bus was caught on camera. Security footage recovered from the transport bus shows the inmate Pedro Castillo-Hernandez, 29, crawling through an opening at the back of the moving bus before rolling onto the road.

Castillo-Hernandez had restraints around his stomach, hand and feet when he made his escape near the intersection of I-45 South and Dixie Farm Road. The bus driver did not notice Castillo-Hernandez’s unanticipated exit and U.S. Marshals only realized Castillo was missing when they did a headcount later.

Castillo-Hernandez is charged with aggravated sexual assault in an incident which happened in Houston in March. Castillo-Hernandez has illegally entered the United State from Mexico multiple times according to authorties.

RELATED: These are the road rage incidents we’ve been reporting on this year

Senior Officer William Jeffrey dead, Sgt. Michael Vance wounded

The officers were shot in northeast Harris County

The bodycam footage released by HPD shows a suspect fatally shooting one officer and wounding another as well as officers fatally shooting the suspect. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

On Sept. 20, Senior Officer William “Bill” Jeffrey was killed and another officer, Sgt. Michael Vance, was wounded while trying to arrest a man on drug charges in northeast Harris County.

Deon Ledet, the 31-year-old man whom the officers were attempting to arrest on drug charges, was also killed in the shooting.

Jeffrey was pronounced dead at a hospital following the shooting. Sgt. Charles Vance was transported in serious but stable condition and was released from the hospital several days later.

Jeffrey joined the Houston Police Department in 1990. He was 54. Vance joined the department in 1998. Vance is 49.

RELATED: These are some of the most powerful images from Officer William ‘Bill’ Jeffrey’s funeral services

Catalytic converter theft leads to wild confrontation, shooting in west Houston

A wild confrontation over a catalytic converter theft led to a shooting in west Houston in April.

Houston police said the incident began when a woman taking out trash saw someone under her sibling’s vehicle in the apartment complex parking lot in the 7700 block of Corporate. The man had a saw and was trying to remove a catalytic converter, according to police.

After the woman told her family members what she saw, her sibling and several other relatives ran outside to confront the suspects.

When they saw the group descending on them, the suspects ran to their vehicle. One returned to the area with a gun and began to shoot at the group. In the rush to the car, the suspects dropped their saw.

KPRC 2 Investigates: Police say thieves targeting catalytic converters at higher rate than ever before

Robber gets away with General Store cash register

In March, a man entered a general store, located at the 9400 block of Kempwood, brandished his gun and threatened an employee before ripping an entire cash register from the counter. The robber then fled the scene in an unknown direction.

Security footage recovered from the general store shows the man struggling to haul the register out the door.

READ MORE: Robbery suspect rips massive cash register, wad of cords away from west Houston Dollar General store

Man robs mother at gunpoint, runs off when he hears her children screaming inside family car

The robbery occurred on Tuesday, July 27 at around 12:15 a.m. outside a convenience store located in the 5000 block of Yale Street.

Shortly after the woman parked her vehicle in the parking lot, an unknown man opened her passenger door, pointed a gun at her, and grabbed her purse. The man then ran to the other side of the vehicle, opened the driver’s door, and forced the woman out of her car and onto the ground while pointing the gun at her head.

The man then ran to the passenger side of a black four-door Honda Civic and fled the scene.

The victim told KPRC 2 her young daughters, a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old, were in the car with her when the robbery occurred, adding that the man attempted to steal the car but ran off after hearing the children screaming.

READ MORE: Woman robbed at gunpoint outside NE Houston convenience store

Suspect fatally shot, deputy critically injured after 20-minute pursuit in north Houston

The YouTube video posted by HPD shows police fatally shooting a suspect and the deputy being hit by the vehicle the suspect was driving. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

A deputy was run over and the suspect fatally shot in north Houston on Sept. 1, during a confrontation with Harris County Precinct 1 deputies and Houston police that was captured on bodycam video and in part on a Ring security camera.

In a video presentation narrated by Belinda Null, assistant chief of the Houston Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Command, Null said a man authorities identified as Omar Hernandez Lazano is seen striking and running over Harris County Precinct 1 Deputy Constable before being fatally shot.

During the pursuit, Lazano pulled into a front yard and backed into a home. Footage shows deputies surround the vehicle. One constable is heard shouting “Get outta the (expletive) car!”

Lazano is seen driving the vehicle forward, running over one of the deputies and dragging the man before crashing into a marked constable vehicle blocking his path.

At that time, five Precinct 1 Constable Deputies and one HPD Officer fired, striking Lazano.

Paramedics later pronounced Lazano dead at the scene, Null said.

RELATED: Houston police release body camera footage from fatal officer-involved shooting in north Houston

Repeat shoplifter throws fit -- and several items of clothing -- while robbing Family Dollar store, police say

A man threw a fit -- and several items of clothing -- while robbing a Family Dollar store in Houston’s Acres Homes area.

The robbery happened on Aug. 26 at 8:49 p.m. when a man walked into the general store located in the 1400 block of W. Gulf Bank.

The store clerk recognized the man as a repeat shoplifter, the Houston Police Department’s Robbery Division said. While the man was walking around the store and picking up numerous items, the store clerk locked the front door, believing the man might attempt to shoplift again.

Confirming the employee’s suspicions, the man attempted to leave the store with an armful of items. Surveillance footage of the incident shows the man bang against both doors. When he realized the doors were locked he throws his armful of items to the ground and knocks over a stand.

The store clerk feared the man might harm her and unlocked the doors, the police said. The man is seen picking up some of the belongings he had thrown on the floor before leaving the store.

Woman refuses to wear mask at Galveston bank, Texas City Office Depot; Gets arrested twice in one week

Police released this body cam footage of a woman being arrested after police say she was asked to leave a bank for not wearing a mask.

A woman who was recorded on police body camera video refusing to wear a mask at a Galveston bank in March was arrested again just days later after declining to wear a mask inside a Texas City Office Depot.

Terry Wright, 65, already had a warrant out for her arrest after she refused to wear a mask in a Bank of America location in Galveston. In bodycam footage, she taunts the officer attempting to escort her outside, asking “What are you going to do, arrest me?”

As the officer attempts to arrest her, she yells “Do not touch me. Who do you think you are? Hold up! Hold up! Some old lady is getting arrested here!”

Once on the ground and in handcuffs, Wright claims she’s a victim of “police brutality.” Several people who witnessed the spectacle can be heard in the video disagreeing with her.

“My civil rights were violated. There is no law that says I have to wear a mask, none whatsoever,” Wright said in an interview with KPRC 2 after the incident. “And how can a bank that has my money in it refuse me access unless I put a face diaper on?”

Wright was arrested again days later at an Office Depot location in Texas City. Wright refused to wear a mask or leave the store when asked to.

The incidents happened shortly after the state’s capacity limits and mask mandate were lifted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. While the order rescinded the state’s mask mandate, it permitted businesses to implement their own coronavirus mitigation measures.

RELATED: Bodycam footage shows maskless woman’s 2nd arrest, this time at Texas City store

Woman, her dog dragged by robbers in SUV after purse-snatching in Heights

Houston police released video of an incident which showed a woman and her dog being dragged several feet after the woman was robbed in the Houston Heights area. The robbery happened on Sept. 25 in the 900 block of Studewood, police said.

The woman told police she was approached by a man who pointed a gun at her and demanded her purse. The suspect then forcibly grabbed her purse and got into a vehicle.

As the man and his accomplice were about to flee, the woman got caught on the passenger and was dragged for several feet along with her dog. The suspects then pushed the woman off the vehicle and onto the ground, breaking her arm in the process. The suspects then fled the scene.

2 students charged in beating caught on camera at Sterling High School

An advocacy group held a news conference Friday on behalf of a Sterling High School student who they say was “savagely beaten” in the campus cafeteria. The incident was captured in a video that went viral.

Two students were charged with assault in September, accused of beating a fellow Sterling High School student in the school’s cafeteria. The violent incident was captured in a video that went viral. KPRC 2 has not verified the video or its contents. Note that the video is graphic in nature.

The video shows two students talking with the 15-year-old victim, later identified as freshman Juan Martinez Jr., as he eats his lunch. Shortly after Martinez turns away from the pair, the boys strike him in the head several times and pull him to the ground. The video ends as the boys stomp and kick Martinez repeatedly.

Martinez sustained injuries to his head and his leg in the beating.

RELATED: Advocacy group speaks out after they say viral video shows student ‘savagely beaten’ in HISD campus cafeteria

Man out on bond for murder charge leads police on brief chase accompanied by India the tiger

On May 9, India the Tiger made her Houston debut when she was seen prowling a west Houston neighborhood. At one point, the tiger encountered an armed off-duty Waller County sheriff’s deputy. In a video of the incident, the deputy is heard yelling at the tiger’s alleged owner, Victor Hugo Cuevas, to get the animal inside.

When officers arrived at the scene, Cuevas, who was out on bond for a murder charge at the time, put India in a white Jeep Cherokee and drove off, leading officers on a brief pursuit, before getting away.

Cuevas was taken into police custody the following day, charged with evading arrest. Nearly a week later, Cuevas’ wife turned over the tiger to police.

India was taken the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, an animal sanctuary in Murchison, Texas, located southeast of Dallas.

TIGER TIMELINE: From prowling video to man’s arrest, this is the sequence of feline-related events

Woman dragged to death during carjacking in east Houston

Video shows the alleged suspect crash the woman's vehicle before walking off

Jessica Garza, 41, was killed when Marcus Wayne Brock, 55, attempted to carjack her while fleeing from a store he had just robbed.

Officers said Brock tried to push Garza out of her vehicle. He then took off as the Garza, who still had her seatbelt on, was trying to get out of the vehicle. Brock struck six or seven vehicles before crashing Garza’s car into a pole up near the corner of Uvalde Road and Louisville Street. Though Brock later fled the scene on foot, he was later located, arrested and charged with capital murder. His bond was set at $1,000,000.

In court, it was said that Garza got stuck in the vehicle because of her seatbelt, but according to Brock, he and Garza were fighting over control of the steering wheel.

Just days before Medina was killed, another woman was robbed and run over at McDonald’s restaurant nearby.

READ MORE: Bond set at $1 million for man accused of dragging woman to death during carjacking in east Houston

Other videos of note: Botched crimes caught on camera

Okay, so these incidents aren’t so much violent crimes as they are deeply satisfying stories of would-be robbers foiled either by their own foolishness or by brave bystanders and victims, a solid way to conclude this otherwise dark and dreary list of despicable deeds. So, without further ado, here are three botched crimes crimes caught on camera in 2021.

Masked men attempt to rob southwest Houston ATM, can’t figure it out

In late October, several masked men were caught on camera attempting to rob a southwest Houston ATM.

Surveillance footage of the botched robbery attempt shows one man pull an ATM technician away from the machine while his accomplices, who appeared somewhat confused, poke and prod the ATM in a failed attempt to get at the cash inside.

After several minutes, the trio gave up, hopped back in their car and fled the scene.

READ MORE: Men wearing ski masks attempt to rob southwest Houston ATM machine

2 clerks take on would-be robbers, turn gun on them during wild convenience store scuffle

In early October, two men tried to rob a Houston convenience store. What they didn’t anticipate when they brandished a gun at store clerks and demanded money from the cash register -- That the pair of employees would turn the tables on them.

A security camera captured the spectacle in all its glory. The would-be robbers entered the convenience store and briefly masqueraded as customers before threatening the store clerks at gunpoint and demanding the cash in the register. The employees pounced on the gun-wielding suspect, slapping the gun out his hands. One employee retrieved his own gun and pointed it at the suspect numerous times during the scuffle, which ended when the store clerks shoved the suspect out the door. The suspects fled the scene empty-handed.

READ MORE: 2 men failed to rob convenience store when store clerks fought back, turning store into a wrestling ring

Marine Corps vet turns the tables on gun-wielding robbery suspect

Ok, so this didn’t happen in Houston, but it’s such deeply satisfying story we couldn’t help but include it. A kick-butt Marine Corps veteran single-handedly stopped a violent crime. He disarmed a gun-wielding juvenile who was attempting to rob an Arizona gas station. The attempted robbery happened on Oct. 20 at 4:30 a.m. when three men, one brandishing a gun, entered the convenience store.

As the armed suspect pointed the gun at the store clerk, the veteran who had been standing near the cash register, acted immediately and lunged at the gun-wielding juvenile. Another robbery suspect fell over in the scuffle.

When deputies asked the customer how he was able to turn the tables on the on the armed suspect so quickly, the veteran said “The Marine Corps taught me not to (mess) around.”

READ MORE: U.S. Marine Corps veteran disarmed a gun-wielding juvenile who was attempting to rob an Arizona gas station

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.