Backtracking from the department's Wednesday night statement that there was no evidence of a shooting at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston police shortly after noon on Thursday announced officers had found one shell casing near the rodeo carnival and have arrested one suspect.
Police said they discovered the fresh 9 mm casing in the northwest part of the carnival, near Kirby Drive at Westridge, not long after giving the all clear around 10:30 p.m. While questioning various people in the area from which the reported gunfire originated, a 17-year-old boy ran away from police. Once captured, Raymond Colbert was charged with misdemeanor evading arrest — but no gun was recovered from him. Police have yet to find a gun on the grounds or offer evidence connecting Colbert to the shooting.
Houston Police Department Captain Dwayne Ready gave an inconsistent account of why police questioned Colbert to begin with. He said first that Colbert "matched the description of a person who fired a shot," then said moments later that "we have no one to date who saw somebody with a gun fire a round." Departnment spokesman John Cannon said afterward he was unable to clarify how many people identified Colbert as someone police should talk to, or why exactly officers focused on Colbert. Cannon did say that Colbert was far from the only person police had been questioning and was the only one who ran.
Ready made clear that Colbert was arrested solely because he fled, but said Colbert will be questioned further, as well as others who were in the area, as police continue their investigation. Police still are unable to determine what led up to the gunshot, or how someone managed to make it past security with a gun. Both concealed carry and open carry of firearms is prohibited at the rodeo.
Asked for an explanation for the possible security lapse, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo CEO Joel Cowley said security protocols are under review and changes will be made if necessary.
The scene of the carnival grounds Wednesday night was chaos as families and groups of young people fled for the exits. David Huffman, who was near the food tents just outside the carnival, said he heard three distinct gunshots, prompting a stampede. But he says people were running even before the gunfire. One woman, he said, came running through the tent, telling friends that there was some commotion in the carnival and that they should leave now. People behind her began running, then knocked David and his seven-year-old twins to the ground. It was just as he was getting up that he heard the shots ring out.
Huffman said he was skeptical of rodeo security, saying his friend had accidentally brought a four-inch hunting knife. Huffman said security staff at the rodeo's entrance failed to find the knife while searching the group's bags.