Suspect Arrested in Fatal Shooting at 3700 Southmore Boulevard

Jul 8, 2020
A suspect charged and wanted in the fatal shooting of a woman found at 3702 Southmore Boulevard about 3:40 p.m. on June 27 is now in custody.    

The suspect, David Nathan Willis (b/m, 39), is charged with capital murder in the 232nd State District Court in the killing of his wife, Andrea Williams, 39, of the above address, and their unborn child.  

An updated booking photo of Willis is attached to this news release.

HPD Homicide Division Officers L. Patterson and Officer R. Waterwall reported:

Officers were dispatched to a welfare check call at an apartment at the above address.  A family member became concerned for a couple in the apartment after hearing there was a possible disturbance at the apartment.

When officers arrived, they did not get a response.  Fearing a medical emergency, officers obtained a key from the apartment property manager to do a welfare check on the couple.  Upon entry, officers found a female victim, later identified as Ms. Williams, unresponsive on the floor.  She had been shot.  Paramedics were called and pronounced Williams deceased.  The male who lives in the apartment with her was not located.  

Further investigation identified Willis as the suspect in this case and, on June 28, a warrant was issued for his arrest.  Willis turned himself in to authorities at the Harris County Jail on Saturday (July 4) without incident.
Read More

City of Houston and Reliant Launch 2020 Beat the Heat Program to Help Houstonians “Stay Cool in Your Home”

Jul 8, 2020
HOUSTON –  Today, Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Reliant and Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia to officially launch its Beat the Heat program to help residents “Stay Cool in Your Home” and avoid the summer heat while practicing social distancing. The 2020 edition of this annual program will provide residents across Houston with portable AC units, care packages, financial assistance and energy efficiency information for much-needed summer relief.

“The COVID-19 public health crisis has changed our lives, but it will not change the city’s commitment to helping Houstonians during the hot summer months. Although we won’t be opening the cooling centers as usual to help keep people socially distant, I’m proud we have come up with a way to still make sure Houstonians can keep cool during the summer,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Staying home means also being able to stay cool in your own home. I want to thank Reliant for being a great partner as we work together to provide for our communities.”
 
“During these hot summer months, social distancing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic will make it even harder for our seniors and vulnerable residents to get the help they need,” said Elizabeth Killinger, president of Reliant. “For 15 years, we have welcomed our neighbors into Reliant’s Beat the Heat cooling centers across the city. While this year’s program looks different, we are pleased to expand our partnership with the City of Houston and provide new support for Harris County Precinct 2 through their nonprofit Precinct2gether to help even more residents stay cool while safe at home.”
 

 
How Houstonians Can Beat the Heat This Summer
 
Reliant is bringing its annual Beat the Heat cooling centers inside Houston homes this year by providing portable air conditioning units to seniors and other vulnerable residents to “Stay Cool in Your Home.” Health, safety and energy efficiency tips; energy assistance information; supplies, including a wall thermometer, mask, gloves, cooling cloths and bottled water; and important services and phone numbers will be shared, along with Zoom meeting links for activities to help keep seniors engaged.
 
As needed, Reliant and the City of Houston will open emergency cooling centers while ensuring the appropriate social distancing and safety measures are in place. Residents can sign up for AlertHouston notifications to be informed when emergency cooling centers are opened. For more details, visit the Beat the Heat website.
 
Community Assistance by Reliant
 
In addition to kicking off this year’s program, Reliant announced two donations totaling $80,000 to support seniors and vulnerable citizens across the city.$60,000 to the Houston Health Department’s Harris County Area Agency on Aging air conditioner program that will provide portable AC units to seniors to stay cool in their homes, and care packages for vulnerable residents and seniors who are participants in the department’s meal programs. Harris County seniors, disabled individuals and families without means to cool their homes can call 832-393-4201 to qualify for the AC program.$20,000 to Precinct2gether in East Harris County to provide additional portable AC units, helpful information and resources to vulnerable residents. 
“Over the last 3 to 4 months, my team has worked tirelessly around the clock to find ways to help our residents, especially our vulnerable communities. We’ve conducted numerous giveaways for masks, pet food, human food, and really ramped up our homebound meals for seniors. With the summer heat already here, I’m so proud we’re able to partner with Reliant to provide yet another necessity for our seniors – air conditioning units. Being comfortable at home is a luxury many of us take for granted, so I’m happy to help provide them with some much-needed relief in these next few months,” said Commissioner Adrian Garcia.
 
For anyone who needs help paying their electricity bill this summer, call 2-1-1 within Texas or visit 211texas.org. Reliant customers can also call 1-866-222-7100 or find additional information at reliant.com/care.
Read More

HOUSTON PUBLIC WORKS WINS SEVERAL TOP INDUSTRY AWARDS

Jul 7, 2020
HOUSTON – Houston Public Works and several of its employees have received several top industry awards for 2020. The recognition includes individual awards and awards for various projects.2020 American Public Works Association Awards
Professional Manager of the Year – Emergency Management – Brian Mason
Professional Manager of the Year – Water Resources – Michael Johnson
Professional Manager of the Year – Transportation – Ian Hlavecek
Professional Manager of the Year – Facilities & Grounds – Jay Patel
Drahn Jones Award for Excellence in Education – Gloria Guerra, Daryl Pope, Hector Montanez-Rivera
Citation for Exemplary Service to Public Works – Chris Broussard
Management Innovation – Wastewater Executive Management Team
Technical Innovation
 – Valve Preventative Maintenance Team
Project of the Year – Structures $25M to $75M – Southeast Water Purification Plant – Jay Patel, Quinn Pitt, Azhar Patankar, Sonny Do, John Msigwa, Kresmimir Begic, Robert Toliver, Kevin Peeples
Project of the Year – Structures $5M to $25M – Ardmore Drinking Water Operations Facility – Jay Patel, Quinn Pitt, Azhar Patankar, Sonny Do, John Msigwa, Kresmimir Begic, Robert Toliver, Kevin Peeples

2020 American Water Works Association Awards
Dr. John Leal Award – Yvonne Forest (the Dr. John Leal Award is presented annually for distinguished service to the water profession)

2020 Texas American Water Works Association Awards
Watermark Award for Community Outreach & Education Programs – 2019 Water Works Festival
Honorable Mention – Imagine a Day Without Water

2020 Water Environment Association Of Texas Awards
Employer of the Year – Shannon Dunne
Medal of Honor for Heroism – Ralph Hect and the Cullen team“Houston Public Works continues to maintain the standard of excellence, innovation, and dedication required by our community and our peers. I am proud of our team and how we remain resilient in our efforts to improve our customer service while creating a strong foundation for Houston to thrive,” said Houston Public Works Director, Carol Ellinger Haddock, P.E.
Read More

Mayor Turner visits Vanessa Guillen mural, asks City to stand with her family

Jul 7, 2020
Mayor Turner’s statement on Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen.
Houston Native Participated in the Mayor’s Hire Houston Youth Program.
HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner joins Vanessa Guillen’s family, friends and the community in honoring the Houston native and Army Specialist.Today, Mayor Turner visited a mural created in Vanessa’s memory at Taqueria Del Sol in South Houston. He also laid flowers at the site of a growing memorial. 

“On behalf of the City of Houston, I extend my prayers and support to the family of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen. Vanessa was a bright and beautiful young woman. We are shocked and saddened by what happened to her.   “Vanessa participated in the City’s Hire Houston Youth program, which provides young people with internships and job opportunities in the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and government. After graduating from Chavez High School, Vanessa enlisted in the army to protect and serve our nation. Vanessa’s family said she wanted to be a hero, a fighter, and accomplish something great. 

“On this Fourth of July, as we commemorate our country’s freedom and founding ideals, we also honor Vanessa’s service in the United States military. The City of Houston stands in solidarity with the Guillen family in their grief and in their search for justice.” 
Read More

The Houston Fire Department Recommends Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend Activities

Jul 1, 2020
The Houston Fire Department Recommends Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend Activities
With many people staying at home to celebrate Memorial Day due to the coronavirus crisis, it’s expected that backyard barbecues and home pool use will be widespread over the course of this upcoming long holiday weekend and into the summer months. With that in mind, the Houston Fire Department urges citizens to follow some simple safety tips if enjoying the outdoors: 

Barbecue Grill Safety Tips

◾Portable barbecue pits, charcoal grills and other open-flame cooking devices outside of a building should not be operated on combustible balconies or located within 10 feet of combustible walls or roofs or other combustible materials.

◾When igniting the barbecue charcoal, citizens should use a charcoal lighter, not gasoline. Gasoline can flash violently in and around the pit causing serious injuries to anyone in the area of the flash. A fire extinguisher or charged garden hose should be handy while the fire is burning. Check the pit frequently to make sure that it is okay.

◾Hot ash and coals from barbecue pits and charcoal burners should be placed in a non-combustible container until cooled or thoroughly saturated with water, before being disposed of.
 
 Pool and Water Safety

◾Active, focused, adult supervision is the most important safety measure to prevent a water-related tragedy involving a child. The vast majority of children who drown in pools do so in the backyards of their own homes or of relatives.

◾Never leave a child alone near water, always watch your children around swimming pools

◾Enroll children over the age of 3 in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. However, swimming lessons don’t make your child “drown proof.” Remember, flotation devices are not a substitute for supervision.

◾Use approved flotation devices

◾If your apartment has a pool, inspect the fence and gate. If the gate does not lock or you find any other defects with the fence, report it to the apartment management immediately.

◾Bring a cell phone to the pool in case of emergency

◾Standing water is the #1 cause of slips and falls around a pool. NO RUNNING on the pool deck!

◾Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy

◾Watch for dangerous “TOOs”- Too Tired, Too Cold, Too Far from Safety, Too Much Sun, Too Much Strenuous Activity

◾Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. If lightning and thunder are nearby, get out until the storm has passed.

Teach Children these safety tips:

◾Always swim with a buddy

◾Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump in feet first to avoid hitting your head on the shallow bottom.

◾Don’t push or jump on others in or around water

◾Swim in supervised areas only

◾Obey all rules and posted signs
 
HFD also recommends parents and guardians learn CPR. Seconds count if a person drowns and performing CPR quickly and correctly can save their life. For more information on local CPR classes, please contact the American Red Cross , your local hospitals or medical schools.
 
Additional safety tips may be found on the HFD website at www.houstonfire.org
Read More

Gas Leak Fire in The Alief Area, One Burn Victim

Jul 1, 2020

Firefighters arrived on the scene of a reported gas leak below ground to find 15 – 18 foot high flames. They contained the large fire with the assistance of Centerpoint crews. The gas was shut off and the scene was turned over to Centerpoint who is investigating the incident. Crews also stopped the fire from spreading to the home. The attics of two neighboring homes were checked with no sign of smoke or fire. One gas Centerpoint employee was burned and transported to the hospital. Firefighters from Stations 76, 68, 73, 10, 75, 83, 57 and Hazmat responded to this incident.

Read More

Surveillance Photo of Suspect Sought in Fatal Shooting at 8700 Richmond Avenue

Jul 1, 2020
Houston police have released a surveillance photo of a suspect wanted in the fatal shooting of a man that occurred at 8700 Richmond Avenue about 10:45 p.m. on June 24.  

The suspect is described as a heavy-set black male with dreadlocks.   A surveillance photo of the suspect, seen getting into a white Mercedes Benz sedan with dark-tinted windows, is attached to this news release.  

The victim, Deaundra Charles Pipkins, 23, was transported to HCA Houston Healthcare West where he was pronounced deceased.  

HPD Homicide Division Sergeant M. Miller and Detectives M. Arrington, M. Perez and D. Stark reported:  

Mr.  Pipkins was shot at least one time while he sat in the passenger side of a vehicle traveling eastbound at the above address.  The driver transported him to the hospital.  

The suspect was last seen in the Mercedes sedan driving eastbound on Richmond Avenue and then turned southbound onto Dunvale Road to flee the scene.  

Anyone with information in this case, or on 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. 
Read More

Houston Health Department, partners announce free COVID-19 testing schedule for week of June 29

Jun 29, 2020
HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department and its agency partners are announcing the schedule for sites offering free COVID-19 tests the week of June 29, 2020.

Texas Division of Emergency Management
The Texas Division of Emergency Management and the department will open five drive-thru test sites:Hobby Elementary, 4021 Woodmont Dr.,NRG Park Green Lot, 1 Reliant Park,HCC-Northeast Campus, 555 Community College Dr.HCC – South Campus, 1990 Airport Blvd., andDr.Askew Elementary, 11200 Wood LodgeTDEM sites require appointments, available by calling 512-883-2400 or visiting txcovidtest.org.

United Memorial Medical Center
United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) will continue its weekday testing at a drive-thru and walk-up test site at the Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star, and a drive-thru site at Houston Community College-Southeast, 6815 Rustic, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
 
The sites don’t require appointments and offer testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until reaching its daily capacity of 250 tests.
 
Other UMMC sites opening weekdays are:UMMC Tidwell, 510 W Tidwell Rd., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.Forest Brook Middle School, 7525 Tidwell Rd, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.Cullen Middle School, 6900 Scott St., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., andGriggs School, 801 Regional Park Dr., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.People needing information about UMMC test sites can call 1-866-333-COVID or visit ummcscreening.com

Houston Health Department & Community-Based Sites
The department operates two free drive-thru COVID-19 community-based testing sites open to anyone, regardless of symptoms. Each site has capacity for 500 tests per day.

Days of operation for the sites are Monday through Saturday.

People can call the department’s COVID-19 Call Center at 832-393-4220 between 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. to receive an access code and directions to the nearest community-based site.
 
Federally Qualified Health Centers
The health department is providing test kits, lab access and equipment to four local Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) so they can expand their COVID-19 testing capacity. The centers and phone numbers people can call to set up testing appointments are: Spring Branch Community Health Center, 713-462-6565El Centro de Corazon, 713-660-1880Avenue 360 Health and Wellness, 713-426-0027Lone Star Circle of Care at the University of Houston, 346-348-1200 andCommunity Health Network, 281-816-3317.FQHC patients pay what they can afford, based on income and family size, and are not denied services due to inability to pay or lack of insurance.
 
The department and its agency partners may shift locations and schedules of test sites to better meet community needs. Houstonians can visit HoustonEmergency.org/covid19 for current Houston test sites and information about stopping the spread of the virus.
 
Information obtained through testing, treatment or services will not be used against immigrants in their public charge evaluation.

Houston COVID-19 Testing Site Flyer: Week of June 29, 2020
Read More

Mayor Turner speaks at Pride Houston virtual rally and thanks participants for adjusting plans because of the public health crisis

Jun 29, 2020
“We’re in this fight together.” 
Mayor Turner addresses Pride Houston, thanks the organization for changing its event format during the public health crisis.
Mayor Turner speaks at the Pride Houston virtual rally
HOUSTON –  Mayor Sylvester Turner joined Pride Houston at the “It All Started With a Riot” virtual rally on Saturday. He thanked the organization for adjusting its annual event format this year in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Pride Month is celebrated annually to mark the anniversary of the June 28, 1969, Stonewall riots in New York City. Each year, thousands of people line downtown Houston streets for a festival and parade. 

Pride Houston planned to host a First Amendment March from Discovery Green and rally at Houston City Hall, but the organization changed its plans because of the rising numbers of positive coronavirus infections and hospitalizations throughout Houston. 

“I know it was a hard decision, and I want to thank the Pride Houston board. It demonstrates the love this community has not just for one another but also people across the community. But just like the LGBTQ+ community has demonstrated that degree of love, the community must demonstrate that kind of love to the LGBTQ+ community,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “We still have a way to go even in this city to make sure we address issues like public accommodations and housing. I look forward to addressing them before I leave office as the mayor of Houston.”

This year’s message at the virtual rally also included reminders for Houstonians to wear a mask or face covering, practice social distancing, and wash hands frequently to help stop the coronavirus from spreading in the community. 
Read More

Mayor Turner Names Task Force Members to Review Houston Police Department Policies and Practices

Jun 25, 2020
Mayor Turner Names Task Force Members to Review Houston Police Department Policies and Practices
HOUSTON – Today, Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed 45 members to his Task Force on Policing Reform to explore best practices and procedures in operating the Houston Police Department.A complete list of members is here.
 The task force will make recommendations in training, use of force, police oversight, and interactions with the community. The official charge of the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform is to:Review HPD policies and practices relating to the use of force.Review the operation of the IPOB, its effectiveness and recommend what changes, if any, should be made.Body cameras: assess when video footage should or should not be released to the general public; ie: criteriaBest practices (model) for crisis diversion (e.g. substance abuse, mental/behavioral issues, homelessness) – evaluate HPD Crisis Intervention TeamAssess how well HPD is doing with community policing and what more should be done to build the bond between police and community.How to decrease the “overt” presence of law enforcement without adversely affecting safety.”It’s a tall order. It’s certainly important that people get an opportunity to express their thoughts, provide their opinions, and I know that we will get many. I think, in the end, this will help our city move forward in a very productive fashion,” said Mayor Turner. “Over the past several weeks, we have all listened to a call for police reform and the demand for change. People in our community want good policing, accountability, and transparency within the Houston Police Department.”Laurence “Larry” Payne will chair the 45-member Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform.Currently, Mr. Payne is the Director of Strategic Partnerships, Civic Engagement, and Critical Conversations for the Houston Public Library.The other 44 members represent the business community, community activists/organizers to faith leaders to advocates. Mayor Turner also named five special advisors to the task force.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reform will meet for the first time during the week of July 6 and have up to 90 days to submit its recommendations.
Read More