Mayor Turner tours explosion site, visits with residents of damaged homes

Jan 25, 2020
Mayor Turner tours explosion site, visits with residents of damaged homes
HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner toured Watson Grinding and Manufacturing Friday evening, following an explosion that killed two men and caused extensive damage to an estimated 214 homes in surrounding neighborhoods.

While at the site, the mayor also extended his condolences to the families of plant workers Frank Flores and Gerardo Castorena, who were killed in the fiery blast.

“We are fortunate more lives were not lost and more people were not injured,” Mayor Turner said. “As we move forward as a city, we must think about how to protect neighborhoods, and that requires a conversation with residents, city council and other stakeholders.”

The mayor praised Houston Police, Houston Fire, the Office of Emergency Management, Houston Public Works and partner agencies that assisted with the initial response to the explosion reported around 4:30 a.m. Friday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the blast. 

Following a media briefing with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Council Member Amy Peck, Police Chief Art Acevedo and Fire Chief Sam Pena, the mayor walked through a northwest Houston subdivision that felt the severity of the blast.

The explosion shattered windows, damaged garage doors, cracked drywall and left the interiors of several homes in shambles. 

“We will continue to work with the families who, through no fault of their own must clean up debris and repair or rebuild their homes,” Mayor Turner said. “I look forward to working with Council Member Peck, who represents the area. Houston is a changing city. We need to do everything we can to keep everyone safe.”
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Suspect Arrested, Charged in Shooting Incident at 3900 Yellowstone Boulevard

Jan 25, 2020
Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested after he fired shots at Houston police officers at 3900 Yellowstone Boulevard about 3:15 a.m. on Thursday (Jan. 23).

The suspect, Gregory Calvin Gaines (b/m, 37), is charged with two counts of aggravated assault against a public servant and possession of a controlled substance in the 183rd State District Court.  A booking photo of Gaines is attached to this news release.

One HPD officer, R. Hansen, assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division, discharged his duty weapon.  He was sworn in as an officer in September 2011.

HPD Special Investigations Unit Sergeant R. Bass and Officers M. Millington, L. Lopez and S. Martinez reported:

Officers were on patrol when they observed a silver Buick LeSabre commit multiple traffic violations.  Officers initiated a traffic stop in the 3900 block of Yellowstone Blvd. and the vehicle turned south onto Sherwood Drive.  The back seat passenger, later identified as Gregory Gaines, leaped from the vehicle and was armed with a handgun.  Gaines fired multiple shots at the officers and struck their patrol vehicle.  Fearing for their lives, Officer Hansen discharged his duty weapon in the direction of Gaines, who quickly fled the scene on foot.  No one was struck or injured. 
The driver of the vehicle was detained without incident as responding officers canvassed the area for Gaines. 

A short distance from the scene, Gaines was located hiding under a vehicle.  He was taken into custody without further incident.  Gaines’ gun was located within close proximity of where he was hiding.  He was found to be in possession of a controlled substance at the time of his arrest.
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One Suspect Arrested, Another Sought in Fatal Shooting at 7201 Bissonnet Street

Jan 25, 2020
Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested in the fatal shooting of a man at 7201 Bissonnet Street about 4:10 a.m. on January 12.  

The suspect, Andy Lopez (H/m, 17, is charged with capital murder in the 178th State District Court.  A booking photo of Lopez is attached to this news release.  

A second suspect remains at large.  He is described only as young-looking Hispanic male, wearing a gray hoodie, dark pants ripped at the knees, and white tennis shoes.  Photos of the wanted individual are attached to this news release.  

The victim, Elwin Joseph Oubre, 57, also known as “Shorty,” was pronounced dead at the scene.  

HPD Homicide Division Sergeant M. Holbrook and Detective J. Roscoe reported:

An unknown Hispanic male entered the convenience store at the above address while the clerk was outside the secured booth. The male demanded the clerk open the booth and an altercation ensued.  The victim, who sometimes cleaned up at the store, attempted to intervene and was fatally shot.  The suspect fled the scene. 

The clerk suffered minor injuries during the altercation.

Further investigation identified Lopez as a suspect in this case.  He was arrested today (January 23) by members of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force and charged for his role in the shooting.  

Anyone with information on this case or the identity of the wanted suspect is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. 
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Suspect Arrested, Charged in Fatal Crash at 500 North Loop West

Jan 21, 2020
Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested in a fatal crash at 500 North Loop West (North Interstate Highway  610 West) about 1:10 a.m. today (January 21).  

The suspect, Diawannah Corteasher Thomas (b/f, 54), is charged with aggravated assault of a police officer and murder in the 208th State District Court.  She is also charged with driving while intoxicated in Harris County Criminal Court #7  A booking photo of Thomas is attached to this news release.  

The identity of the deceased male suspect, 40, is pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.  

HPD Vehicular Crimes Division Sergeant D. Rose and Officer O. Bledsoe reported:  

HPD North Patrol Division officers responded to a burglary-in-progress call and saw the suspect vehicle, a white Ford E-450 truck driven by Thomas, and initiated a vehicle pursuit.  One of the suspects, a male, exited the vehicle and was taken into custody.  A second male suspect attempted to exit the vehicle, however, the vehicle was moving at a high rate of speed and he only managed to hold on to the vehicle.  

The suspect vehicle continued to evade police westbound on the North Loop West service road.  As the vehicle approached the intersection of North Main, the male suspect lost his grip, fell from the truck and was struck by the vehicle.  Thomas continued to evade police and intentionally struck an HPD two-man patrol vehicle in the 4800 block of Oak Forest.  Neither officer was injured in that crash.  The pursuit ended at the intersection of North Shepherd and Parker Road.  Thomas was taken into custody without further incident.  She was determined to be under the influence of an unknown substance and was subsequently charged for her role in the crash.  
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Suspect Arrested, Charged in 2019 Fatal Shooting at 803 Royal George Lane

Jan 17, 2020
Charges have been filed against a suspect arrested in a fatal shooting that occurred at 803 Royal George Lane about 3:30 p.m. on August 14, 2019.

The suspect, Leo McKinley Furlow (b/m, 22), is charged with murder in the 262nd State District Court.  A photo of Furlow is attached to this news release.

The victim, Phillip Prudhomme III, 42, was pronounced dead at the scene.

HPD Homicide Division Detectives R. Montalvo and D. Nabors reported:  

HPD patrol officers responded to a shooting call in the 800 block of Royal George Lane and learned the incident occurred at the intersection of Ridgewood Knoll Lane and Regal Oaks Bend Lane.  Officers found Mr. Prudhomme deceased inside a white GMC Yukon.  

Further investigation led to the identification of Furlow as a suspect in this case and, on Wednesday (January 15), he was charged with Prudhomme’s death.
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Jan 17, 2020
HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department is marking the tenth year of its Coast2CoastRx prescription coupon card by bringing it to hundreds of thousands of Houston homes. The free card, which offers significant discounts on prescription medications, will arrive with city utility bills starting in mid-January.
Since its launch in October 2009, the Coast2CoastRx prescription coupon card has saved Houston-area residents more than $47 million in prescription medication costs. The free card does not require an application, registration or any personal information, and can be used at thousands of participating pharmacies. It is available for free to anyone, regardless of age, income, citizenship status or insurance coverage.
 “Over the past decade, the Coast2CoastRx prescription coupon card has been a powerful tool for Houstonians to save significantly on prescription medication costs,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The City of Houston is pleased to continue its valuable partnership with Coast2CoastRx into the new decade.”
The Coast2CoastRx prescription coupon card is available for pickup at Houston Health Department multi-service centers, WIC clinics and health centers. The card is also available at, where it can be texted, emailed or printed for immediate use. The website also offers a pricing tool that shows how much people will save by using the card. In 2019, the card program saved people nationally an average of 65% on the cost of generic and brand name prescriptions.
Savings for Houstonians through the Coast2CoastRx program comes at no cost to the City of Houston. In addition to the discounts on prescriptions, the card also provides discounts on dental and vision care, hearing aids, diabetic supplies, lab tests, pet prescriptions and veterinarian services.
“We find the Coast2CoastRx program to be especially beneficial in enhancing the lives of older adults through our Harris County Area Agency on Aging,” said Deborah Moore, assistant director for human services at the Houston Health Department. “The card is an important tool in helping older adults who may be living on a fixed income stretch their healthcare dollars.”
Since 2010, Coast2CoastRx has provided approximately $70,000 annually to the Houston Health Foundation to support vital public health programs such as See to Succeed, which has provided more than 65,000 pairs of corrective eyeglasses to school-aged children, Project Saving Smiles, which has served 50,000 second graders with dental screenings, sealants, and fluoride varnishes and the home-delivered meals program, which facilitates more than a million meals for senior citizens annually.
“The Coast2CoastRx program will continue to work to bring savings for Houstonians’ healthcare needs. As an organization we are dedicated to making the process of obtaining and utilizing free prescription discounts easy and accessible to all,” says Edward Rahn, President of Coast2CoastRx. “The Coast2CoastRx program is proud to provide Houstonians this valuable free service.”
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City of Houston, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, and Regions Bank launch Financial Empowerment Center Initiative

Jan 13, 2020
City of Houston, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, and Regions Bank launch Financial Empowerment Center Initiative
Latest component of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Complete Communities initiative unveiledNational program launching in Houston in the Acres Home and Magnolia Park neighborhood multi-service centersGoals include reducing personal debt and increasing individual savings to help Houstonians have a more prosperous future
HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and representatives of national nonprofit organization Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund and Regions Bank on Thursday announced the opening of two Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) to provide one-to-one, professional financial counseling to Houstonians at no cost to residents.

The FEC locations are at the Acres Homes Multi Service Center, 6719 W. Montgomery Rd. 77091, in north Houston and the Magnolia Multi Service Center, 7037 Capitol St. 77011, in the City’s East End area.
A national program of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, the two FECs are strategically located in two of the 10 areas Mayor Turner designated as Complete Communities – Acres Home and Magnolia Park-Manchester – to ensure equitable access throughout the City, especially for low- and moderate-income families.

“Houstonians in historically under-served neighborhoods want access to services like financial planning to prepare for purchasing a home, sending their children to college or saving for the future,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “That’s why I believe our partnership with Regions Bank and Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund is critically important.  Complete Communities works to give quality services and amenities to residents through a cross-sector approach. By tapping the strengths of our community members, nonprofits, businesses and philanthropic partners, together, we can build a stronger and more resilient city.”
The FECs are staffed by professionally-trained financial counselors who will help individuals and families to better manage their finances, pay down debt, increase savings, establish and build credit, and access safe and affordable mainstream banking products. At the core of the FEC model is the integration of counseling into other social services, such as housing and foreclosure prevention, workforce development, prisoner reentry, benefits access, domestic violence services, and more.
The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services employs the financial counselors and manages the day-to-day operations of the program. The Alliance is a leading local nonprofit organization committed to providing financial and social services to Houston’s residents.
Regions Bank has pledged its funding support to the Financial Empowerment Centers program as part of the bank’s commitment to supporting financial wellness, one of Regions’ top community investment priorities. The bank also supports a similar Financial Empowerment Center initiative in Nashville, Tennessee.
“The health of our city begins with the financial health of the people who call it home,” said Mark Jacobs, Houston Market Executive for Regions. “By supporting Complete Communities –
and the Financial Empowerment Centers partnership specifically – we can provide valuable resources to empower thousands of families working to reduce debt and build savings for a brighter future.”
The Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities collaborated with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund), a national nonprofit organization working with over 80 cities across the country, to train the Alliance staff in personalized, one-to-one financial coaching.
First piloted in New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2008, FECs across the country have worked with over 99,000 clients, helping them reduce individual debt by over $137 million, and increasing their families’ savings by close to $19 million. A CFE Fund evaluation showed that this program works even for residents with very low incomes and other complex financial challenges. Houston is one of over two dozen local governments working to launch a local FEC initiative.
“Local leaders know first-hand the connection between family financial stability and community financial stability,” said Jonathan Mintz, President and CEO of the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Mayor Turner and the City of Houston are part of a growing national movement to bring free, high-quality financial counseling as a public service to their residents; we are proud to partner with Mayor Turner on this critical work.”
According to the FDIC, 310,340 people or 11.8% Houstonians do not have a checking or savings account. Of the 1.6 million households in Harris County, 28% are unable to cover their basic needs and 15% live at or below the Federal Poverty Level according to the United Way of Greater Houston report on Houston’s A.L.I.C.E. population – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed residents. The United Way of Greater Houston also is a financial underwriter of the Houston FEC program.
“The Financial Empowerment Centers initiative is designed to assist all Houstonians to become financially healthy, but we are specifically targeting this effort to help heads of households who don’t earn enough to be able to afford the basic necessities of food, housing, transportation, child care and health care,” said Shannon Buggs, director of the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities. “The FECs are here to help our low-income neighbors overcome financial struggles and achieve sustainable financial success.”
Financial counseling will be available for Acres Home residents immediately after the grand opening on January 9. The FEC program receives client referrals from community partners that include Lone Star College, the Fifth Ward Chamber of Commerce, Houston Housing Authority, The Health Department’s Community Re-entry Network Program, the Housing and Community Development Department, the Harris County Area Agency on Aging, the Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office, and the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs.
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Boxing and Business Icon George Foreman named Grand Marshal for the 42nd Annual “Original” Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade

Jan 13, 2020

this update has a light change to Mr. Foreman’s quote. Please use this version.
HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner and The Black Heritage Society  have announced that Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman will join the 42nd Annual “Original” Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade as the Grand Marshal.

The downtown celebration will take place on Monday, January 20, 2020 starting at Smith and Lamar streets, from 10 a.m. to noon. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE) will co-produce the event.
 “As a Texas native, and having grown up right here in Houston, it’s an honor and privilege to be named the Grand Marshal of The Original MLK Day Parade,” said Foreman.

Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas, but spent his childhood growing up in Houston’s Fifth Ward. He started the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in northeast Houston in 1980, where he continues to serve as an ordained minister. Several years later, Foreman founded the George Foreman Youth and Community Center (GYFC), using athletics to keep local kids off the street and out of trouble. For over 30 years, GFYC has been a beacon of hope in Houston serving the underprivileged and helping kids become champions in the ring and in life.
During his boxing career, Foreman earned two heavyweight titles — the first in 1973 in a historical match against Joe Frazier. His second heavyweight championship was earned in 1994, where Foreman made boxing history again as the oldest heavyweight champion at the age of 45.
Today, he is a globally-recognized entrepreneur, having built the Foreman brand to new heights with products ranging from shoes to the George Foreman Real Time Pain Relief Formula.
“George is a Houston icon. His commitment to the Houston community matched with his ability to persevere, embody the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “I am excited the champ said yes. We could not think of a better Grand Marshal for this historic event.”
The Original MLK Day Parade was the very first MLK Day Parade held in the nation after being sanctioned by the King family in 1978 in Houston.
The celebration will showcase a variety of marching bands, decorated floats, dance teams, military and ROTC groups, first responders, city and county officials, VIP guest appearances and notable organizations from around the world.

Sponsors include Radio One Houston, AT&T, HEB, United Airlines and more. The Mayor’s Drum Major Award will be presented again to one participating band, recognizing outstanding performance and originality. 
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Suspect Charged in Incident at 8106 Martin Luther King Boulevard

Jan 13, 2020
Suspect Charged in Incident at 8106 Martin Luther King Boulevard
A suspect has been charged following an incident in which a HPD officer discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect, at a suspect at 8106 Martin Luther King Boulevard about 1:25 p.m. on Thursday (January 9).

Keith Martin (b/m, 45) is charged with misdemeanor terroristic threat in Harris County Criminal Court #15.  Martin was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital in stable condition.  A previous booking photo of Martin is attached to this news release.

The HPD officer who discharged his duty weapon is assigned to the Gang Division High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Proactive Gang Squad and was sworn in as an officer in February 2014.  He was not injured in this incident.  Due to the nature of the officer’s assignment, his name is not releasable. 

HPD Special Investigations Unit Sergeant J. Hekimian and Detectives N. Arellano, J. Brown and R. Lujan reported:

Officers assigned to the HIDTA squad were conducting a joint investigation with other agencies and were sitting in their unmarked pickup truck in a Walgreens parking lot at the above address.  As officers were conducting surveillance, an unknown male (Martin) walked behind their truck and then to the front of the truck and looked inside.  Martin waved his hands, gestured for the officers to get out of their truck and stated “come out, come out.”  He then struck the hood of the truck with his hands and went to the driver’s side door, tried to open it and stated he had something for the officers.  Martin continued to walk around the truck trying the door handles and became increasingly angry and agitated that the doors were locked and the officers would not exit their vehicle. 

Officers observed Martin again walk in front of the truck and continue to motion for the officers to get out.  He again stated he had something for them.  Martin then removed his backpack from his shoulders, held the backpack in front of him, and unzipped it.  Officers saw Martin put his right hand in the backpack up to his elbow and raise the backpack in a manner that looked like he had a gun in it and was about to begin firing at them.  Officers believed they were about to be shot and one officer discharged his weapon, striking the male more than once.  He was transported to the hospital.

As is customary when an HPD officer discharges his weapon and strikes a suspect, this case is being investigated by the HPD Special Investigations Unit, the HPD Internal Affairs Division and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. 
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Mayor Turner accepts friendly wager from Kansas City Mayor

Jan 9, 2020
Mayor Turner accepts friendly wager from Kansas City Mayor
Houston — As the Houston Texans prepare to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round playoff game, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today that he has accepted a friendly wager from the office of Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.

Kansas City said it will send Gates BBQ and Boulevard Beer when the Texans beat the Chiefs, and Mayor Turner said he looks forward to accepting delivery of such a generous offering. 

In the unlikely event of a Texans’ loss, the mayor will share some of Houston’s best Mexican food with Kansas City. The mayor’s office will send Mexican specialties  from the award-winning Irma’s Original Restaurant. 

“The Houston Texans are champions and they play to win,” Mayor Turner said. “The entire city is excited about Sunday’s game and we look forward to cheering the Texans to victory and celebrating with some Kansas City BBQ and beer.” 
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