5 things for Houstonians to know for Wednesday, Jan. 19

COVID-19 testing sites unregulated, unregistered; What lawmakers are doing to add oversight

Here are things to know for Wednesday, Jan. 19:

1. 3 teens killed in possible double homicide, suicide at Crosby-area home, Sheriff Gonzalez says

The deaths of three teenagers whose bodies were found at a Crosby area home Tuesday afternoon were due to a possible double homicide and suicide, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

“Based on the trauma that was viewed, it appears that this may be a case of double homicide-suicide, but that is still going to be under investigation. But that is the preliminary information that we have,” Gonzalez said during a news conference Tuesday evening.

Deputies with Harris County Precinct 3 and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office were sent to the home in the 4500 block of Wolcek Road after a family member, who lived nearby, made the discovery.

Gonzalez said two girls, possibly ages 17, and a boy, possibly 15 years old, were found with “signs of trauma.”

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2. Teen suspect accused of shooting 16-year-old 22 times free on bond, court records say

The boyfriend accused of shooting his 16-year-old girlfriend 22 times while walking her dog in a southwest Houston neighborhood is free on bond, according to court records.

Frank Deleon Jr., 17, was taken into custody Monday and charged with murder for the Jan. 11 shooting death of Diamond Alvarez. His bond was set at $250,000 but he bonded out of jail Tuesday, court records said.

Investigators said Deleon was romantically involved, or in a love triangle, with Alvarez and another female. When Alvarez found out about the other relationship, the two agreed to meet around 9:30 p.m. at a park located in the 15400 block of Park Manor.

Alvarez’s family said she was outside walking the family dog, “Peanut” when they heard gunshots. Her parents became concerned and her mother dialed her phone, but received no response. Alvarez’s mother and stepfather then went outside and found Peanut alone. Immediately, they knew something was wrong.

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3. What lawmakers are doing to stop unregulated, unregistered COVID-19 testing sites

The omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to lead to high demand for COVID-19 testing. People desperate to get swabbed are lining up anywhere with a sign for a free test.

KPRC 2 News uncovered concerning issues at obscure pop-up sites conveniently placed in many urban and rural neighborhoods in the Houston area in recent weeks. The city of Houston and state officials are now warning people about where they’re getting tested due to questionable operations and lengthy delays.

“Obviously, we didn’t prepare for these types of unscrupulous testing sites that pop up,” said State Rep. Ron Reynolds of Missouri City, who said the state needs to act in a timely manner.

Texas does not register nor regulate pop-up testing sites, which is part of the problem, according to Dr. Joseph Varon with United Memorial Medical Center.

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4. Sugar Land’s baseball team to be called the Space Cowboys, KPRC 2 Sports confirms

The former Sugar Land Skeeters will become the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, KPRC 2 Sports Director Randy McIlvoy has confirmed.

The Houston Astros had announced earlier on Tuesday that their Triple-A affiliate’s team name, logo, mascot, and jerseys would all be revealed at a launch party on Jan. 29. $1 tickets for the launch party can be purchased here. It’ll be the fans’ first chance to buy merchandise of the rebranded team.

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5. KPRC 2 Investigates: New Visa gift cards empty, customers told nothing can be done

Gift cards are always the popular go-to holiday present. Now that people are trying to use them, some are saying their cards are worthless and the company that issues them won’t help. We hear about gift card fraud, scams, and thefts frequently but it’s not clear that is what is happening with Vanilla Visa gift cards. One thing is clear, a whole lot of people said they can’t use the cards they were gifted.

Customers get gift cards that do not work

Leslie Herring is a Katy mom of twins and a school teacher who is always helping and doing for others. So when her mom gave her a $100 Vanilla Visa gift card for Christmas, this mama wanted some new shoes!

“I was super excited. Went to go check out online, but the number in and it said, ‘there’s a problem with this card,’” explains Herring.

When she tried to check the balance on Vanilla Visa’s website, it directed her to call a toll-free number.

Read more.

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