On Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner called a press conference to ask the public to please come forward with any information they may have about the man who brutally killed an 11-year-old boy walking home from school.
Turner acknowledged that it had almost been one week since Josue Flores, a sixth grader at Marshall Middle School, was taken from his family and from his community, though the city is no less shaken up. Flores was on his way home from a Science Club pizza party when it happened, only several blocks from the school. Authorities say an unidentified man stabbed him to death for no understandable reason, leaving scores of classmates, dozens of teachers, his family and friends with nothing but unanswered questions.
Police had originally arrested a homeless man for the murder based on eyewitness identification — but two days later, they dropped the charges. The eyewitness, and the police, got it wrong; and so the community went back to walking the streets in fear and the family went back to having no closure, and police had to start over. Turner apologized, on behalf of the city, to both the man whose face had been plastered across the Internet as a suspected killer, and to the family, who desperately wants justice for their son and brother.
Turner said there is a $15,000 reward for anyone who comes forward with information leading to the suspect's arrest; those with information should call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS or the HPD homicide division at 713-308-3600.
“This is one of those incidents that happens in our city that's very difficult to shake,” Turner said. “I want to make a personal appeal to people in this city, that if you have any information, of any person who may have committed this crime, I am personally asking those people to make that information readily available to police.”
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He spoke at a vigil held for Flores on Friday before a hundreds of 11- and 12- and 13-year-olds. He began by offering the simple truth that sometimes life is not fair, “but we still try to find a way to navigate through it,” he said. Then he turned his attention to the family to say, “God is still in control, and he will give you the strength that you need, and of course we are here to lend our support to this family, to just say that you're not standing alone.”
At the press conference, Turner said it was a hard speech to make.
“He didn't deserve this. And his family didn't deserve it, and the community didn't deserve it. And so this one is tough,” he said. “And you know, there's not a press conference for every person that's murdered, and that's not to say that one is not deserving of it. But this goes right to the heart and soul of our city. This one goes right to the heart and soul.”
From what various students and teachers said of Josue Flores on Friday, he was a kid who loved learning more than anyone. His math teacher, Hyrum Estupinan, told the Houston Press that he had completed the most online math lessons in the school, simply because he enjoyed it, and that if he didn't do well on a test, Flores would say he was sorry. His classmates said he liked sharing, and that he always remained positive, even in the worst of times.