HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – On the day that 11-year-old Darius “DJ” Dugas was being laid to rest, Harris County Sheriff’s deputies announced Friday that they have arrested the suspect responsible for his death.
Daveyonne Howard, 19, has been charged with murder. He is currently in the Harris County Jail on an unrelated charge.
Arrest update: Daveyonne Howard (19) has been charged w the murder of the 11-yr-old child. Howard is currently in the Harris County Jail on an unrelated charge. The investigation revealed that just prior to the murder, Howard was in another complex breaking into vehicles (1/3) https://t.co/fj72i9AWMy— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) February 18, 2022
According to DJ’s mother Brenetta Francis, on Feb. 3, the family had just arrived home shortly after 6 p.m. and DJ realized he left his jacket and a few other items in the car. The family lives on the third floor of the apartment building and the child walked down to the parking lot.
Francis said about a minute or so later, they heard gunshots. Her oldest son ran downstairs and found his little brother lifeless.
When deputies with the Harris County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office arrived on the scene, his family was attempting to administer CPR. Paramedics rushed DJ to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“He was not going across the street. He was not wandering. He was going to the car where he should have felt safe,” Francis said.
Witnesses describe seeing what they believe was a teen boy with a short afro fleeing the scene on foot. He was wearing a white shirt and dark sweat pants. The suspect ran northbound through the complex and jumped over a wooden fence, investigators said.
Francis believes the suspect was trying to rob her son, but investigators learned that was not the case.
According to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, on that evening, Howard was caught in the act of breaking into a car and chased to the Vireo Apartments at 12212 Tidwell. Howard began shooting at the owner of the vehicle, who was chasing him to recover his stolen property, and DJ was struck.
Howard, who has an extensive criminal history, was out on bond for aggravated robbery at that time.
DJ’s death adds to the string of innocent Houston area children who have been caught in the crossfire of violence involving adult criminals.
Shortly after DJ was killed, 9-year-old Ashanti Grant was critically injured while riding in a vehicle with her family on the Southwest Freeway on Feb. 8. The girl was shot in the head when a road rage shooter opened fire on the family’s vehicle. Ashanti continues to fight for her life in the hospital.
On Feb. 15, 9-year-old Arlene Alvarez was also shot in the head while riding in a vehicle with her family. In this case, a victim was shooting at a suspect who had just robbed him at a Chase ATM as the Alvarez family was driving by. The victim thought the suspect had hopped into the Alvarez’s truck and aimed at it, shooting the innocent girl. She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and died the following day after being removed from life support.
Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston Police Department Chief Troy Finner have vowed to track down the criminals who are harming innocent children.
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