Usually the cops make the call whether to charge someone with murder, but not always. There were a couple of shootings over the weekend that will require input from the Harris County District Attorney's Office and a county grand jury to decide if criminal charges are warranted.
The first involves a Houston police officer.
On Saturday night, police got a call after 49-year-old Gary Varner allegedly pointed a gun at his neighbors on the 8000 block of Turquoise, threatened to kill them, and then ran inside his home and chased his wife and son out of the house, police say. Varner then allegedly started firing off rounds inside his own place.
When an officer got there, Varner refused to surrender and go outside, instead choosing to barricade himself in the home, police say. Varner repeatedly ran up to his door to threaten the officer, police say, and then would return into the main part of his house and fire shots. At some point the SWAT team was called out and a hostage negotiator began talking to Varner over the phone. But at about 10:40 p.m., police say, Varner walked outside his front door, a laser-guided gun in his hand, and pointed the weapon at the SWAT officers. Senior Officer R.L. Kent then fired a single shot, killing Varner, police say.
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As always in officer-involved shootings, the D.A.'s office and HPD Internal Affairs Division are investigating to determine whether the shooting was justified.
A grand jury will be tasked with deciding whether the shooting of a juvenile on Thursday morning was legal.
According to police, a 42-year-old homeowner, whose name has not been released, was alone in his place at 8102 Gladstone when he heard the sound of glass breaking. He quickly grabbed his gun and went to see what was happening. As he pulled back a bedroom curtain, the homeowner saw a kid removing the glass, police say. Startled, the man fired, hitting the juvenile.
The investigation continues and evidence will be presented to a grand jury.
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In other Body Count news, there were two shootings in as many days less than a block away from each other on Rampart Street just south of Interstate 59.
On Sunday afternoon, police say, two guys, ages 29 and 26, were standing on the sidewalk outside the Peachtree Apartments when a group of unknown men opened fire on them. The 29-year-old died and the 26-year-old, who was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital, is expected to live.
The only description of the suspects is that they are Hispanic.
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About 375 feet from there, two other young men were shot and killed on Friday night. A 22 and 23-year-old were sitting on a staircase, also at the Peachtree Apartments, when two Hispanics walked up to them and fired. Police are still investigating.
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Anyone with information about any of these investigations is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
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