Leader July 2, 2022

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Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Vol. 67 • No. 27

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Citing ‘paralyzing political gridlock,’ Gonzalez says no to ICE post By Charlotte Aguilar caguilar@mcelvypartners.com

More than a year after he was first nominated by President Biden, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez announced Monday that he had withdrawn from consideration to direct U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Gonzalez went through his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in July 2021, and was approved in a vote along party lines. His appointment was later stalled earlier this year following a domestic violence accusation brought against him, however, which Gonzalez denied.

Biden re-nominated Gonzalez again in January of this year. “I arrived at this decision after prayerfully considering what’s best for our nation, my family and the people of Harris County who elected me to serve a second term as sheriff,” Gonzalez wrote in a five-part Twitter thread, which followed a CBS News report that he had informed Biden of his decision Sunday. “I am grateful to President Biden for the honor of nominating me, and I wish this administration well as it strives to overcome the paralyzing political gridlock that threatens far more than our nation’s border. Frankly, the dysfunction threatens America’s heart and soul,” he See Gonzalez P. 5

Gonzalez

It’s not just my business, It’s my neighborhood

Management district unveils sidewalk, bus shelter improvements By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

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Photo from Texas Central Facebook The Texas Supreme Court recently upheld the eminent domain rights of Texas Central in a 5-3 vote on June 24, meaning the company can legally force owners in the rail’s proposed route to sell their land.

Staycation Art columnist Mitch Coheh has the scoop on a tropical-themed art show.

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Im-Pressed Reviewer Dan Greer’s recent trip to Sunday Press left him with a good taste.

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Touching down A new prescription-only medical marijuana shop is open in the Heights.

Texas Supreme Court upholds eminent domain for bullet train By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

The plans for a high-speed bullet train that would take passengers from Houston to Dallas could still have some life, at least for the time being, following a ruling in the state’s highest court last week. The Texas Supreme Court on July 24 voted 5-3 in favor of upholding the eminent domain rights of Texas Central, which is backing the planned Texas High Speed Rail between the cities. The ruling says Texas Central and Integrated Texas Logistics, Inc., have the legal right to acquire the land needed to construct the $30 billion high speed rail. Chief Justice Nathan Hecht along with Justices Brett Busby, Jeff Boyd, Debra Lehermann and Evan Young voted in favor of upholding a state appellate court’s previous decision on June 24, according to court documents. The ruling said Texas Central and Integrated Texas Logistics Inc. can be classified as interurban electric railway companies under the Texas Transportation Code. “The case involves the interpretation of statutes relating to eminent domain; it does not ask us to opine about whether high-speed rail between Houston and Dallas is a good idea or whether the benefits of the pro-

Photo from Texas Central Facebook Pictured is a conceptual rendering of the Texas High Speed Rail’s proposed Houston Station, which sits at the old Northwest Mall site near Highway 290.

posed rail service outweigh its detriments,” the majority opinion reads. “…We agree with the court of appeals that the entities have eminent-domain power as interurban electric railway companies and need not address whether they also qualify as railroad companies.” See Train P. 5

Contributed photo Pictured is a sign at one of the new bus shelters recently created by the Near Northwest Management District’s West Little York Pedestrian Improvement project.

Heights valedictorian receives prestigious college scholarship By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

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THE INDEX. Church........................................................... 4 Classifieds ................................................. 7 Coupons ...................................................... 7 Food/Drink ................................................ 6 Opinion ........................................................ 3 Public Information......................... 10 Puzzles ......................................................... 3

A local business organization has completed its newest efforts to improve public transportation in the area. On Wednesday, the Near Northwest Management District and Houston METRO unveiled the completion of the West Little York Pedestrian Improvements Project, which is meant to increase pedestrian safety and multimodal transportation options along the roadway. “We’re making it more accessible for residents to use METRO and mass transit, and demonstrating that we want people to work,” district President Wayne Norden said. The roughly $1.7 million project involved the replacement of 16,000 linear feet of what officials characterized as “poor and/or non-existent” sidewalks on West Little York between Hollister Road and Chateau Forest Drive to aid Houston METRO’s extended bus service Route 03, which runs through the area. It also included the construction of seven new bus shelters along West Little York. Plans for improvements began in 2015 as part of a federal Capital Improvement Plan, according to NNMD Vice President of Capital Projects EiSee NNMD P. 5

Julian Seghers

As Heights High School’s valedictorian, some might be surprised to hear that Julian Seghers doesn’t usually think he’s the smartest person in any room. But it’s that mindset, he said, which has allowed him to excel in his academic journey. And he was rewarded for his academic efforts in recent months with a prestigious college scholarship earlier this year. In April, Seghers was named a President’s Scholar at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. “Many peers of mine, I’d ar-

gue that they’re more naturally gifted (with figuring stuff out),” Seghers said. “But having a good work ethic is just as important.” The scholarship, which is valued at around $320,000, will cover tuition, fees, room and board, as well as study abroad and mentorship opportunities for four years at the school. Seghers was one of just 20 incoming SMU students to receive the honor out of hundreds of applicants from around the world, which the school says is its highest academic honor based on grades, academic achievement on standardized tests, and leadership.

The recently-graduated senior finished his high school career with a 4.9 GPA, and was a National Merit Scholar his junior year. He was also a member of Heights’ finance club, golf and tennis teams, the National Honor Society, and the school’s IB diploma program. “The President’s Scholars Program has provided opportunity to some of the nation’s brightest students, who in turn enrich the university environment with their intellectual vitality, diverse talents, and campus involvement,” the President’s Scholar See Seghers P. 5

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Page 2 • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • The Leader

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THE TOPICS. The Leader • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Page 3

Access to guns plays small role in suicide rates By Bill King For The Leader

Over the last 20 years, nearly a million Americans have taken their own lives. During that time, suicide has been the tenth leading cause of death for all ages.1 In 2020, it was the second leading cause of death for the ages of 10-14 and 2534 and the third leading cause for ages 15-24. Because the incidence of suicides is so high among young people, the years of life lost2 is especially tragic. One research group estimated that in 2020 alone, there were nearly a million years of life lost in America to suicide. The number of suicides over the last two decades has been steadily increasing, reflecting both a larger population and about a third increase in the rate of suicide. Interestingly, suicides topped out at just over 48,000 in 2018, and then declined slightly in 2019 and

Bill King

2020. Preliminary data for 2021 indicates that there was probably not much change from 2020. This contradicts the predictions of many, including yours truly, that suicides would increase during the pandemic due to depression from isolation. Advocates for stricter gun laws, almost always lump suicides together with homicides and firearm

accidents, when citing the toll of gun violence in America. I think that is unhelpful in trying to sort out why so many people die from guns in America because the two phenomena are so dramatically different. However, it is entirely fair to ask the question of whether American’s greater access to guns affects the number of suicides. It seems intuitive that greater access to a lethal weapon would certainly make it easier to commit suicide and therefore more likely. A survey of studies conducted by a research group at Harvard suggests a correlation between the number of gun ownership parameters and higher suicide rates, e.g., people who own handguns are almost ten more likely to commit suicide than non-owners. However, as I have previously discussed, correlation does not necessarily imply causation and some of the data suggests a more complicated

picture. First, only about half of all suicides are committed with a firearm and that rate has remained fairly steady over the last twenty years, despite the rapid increase in gun ownership I noted in my last post. Indeed, the number of suicides committed without a firearm has actually increased by a greater percentage over the last twenty years than firearm suicides (72% vs. 46%). Also, the United States’ suicide rate is only slightly higher when compared to other countries. In 2019, the global rate was about 10.4 versus 11.7 for the U.S., which, of course, does not come close to coinciding with our country’s dramatically disproportionate private ownership of firearms compared to other countries.3 And to further muddle the data, there are several countries with miniscule private gun ownership but which have

higher suicide rates than the U.S., e.g., Belgium, Russia, South Korea. One factor is that individuals who attempt suicide with a firearm more often succeed in ending their life than those who use other methods. A 2000 study found that 82% of those who attempted suicide with a firearm died while less than 10% of those who used other methods did. The study was a relatively small sample and is somewhat dated, but I find those results intuitive and likely consistent with all suicides attempts. So, does the greater access to firearms in America result in a higher suicide rate? I do not think we can definitively answer that question. But it seems to me that the weight of the evidence suggests the ready access to firearms is a factor that results in a higher rate than we might otherwise have. Does it make a dramatic difference? I doubt it.

Reading, riting and regulating our information To: State Board of Education From: Your chairman Subject: Rewriting the kurriculum Fellow members of the Texas State Board of Education, it’s time again for us to rewrite the state’s social studies kurriculum. Yes, we have to drop our usual patriotic pursuits, like banning books and sucking up to powerful polliticians, to make sure the minds of Texas’ 5-million school children do not get korupted by those commies with their sick emphasis on science, sex and evolution. To bring you up to speed on what we need to tackle, here’s a brief background: A 2015 stateadopted textbook referred to enslaved people as “immigrant workers.” Only in 2018 the SBOE (that’s us) decided that the kurriculum should be changed to emphasize that slavery was a primary cause of the Sivil War. In the last session of our Legislachur, the Republicanruled senate passed a bill that would remove requirements that schools teach Native American history, works by women’s suffragists along with those of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Frederick Douglass. The Republicans’ bill would have also removed requirements that teachers teach about slavery and the Ku Klux Klan and stop preaching that they were “morally wrong.” Those leftist Dems turpedoed the bill. In 2010 we voted to include in the students’ kurriculum a bit about Moses because he influenced our Founding Fathers. As usual, there were objections from those Godless lefties, but one of our

LYNN ASHBY Columnist

memburs pointed out that Moses had parted Buffalo Bayou to create the Houston Ship Channel. Despite some who questioned this historical accuracy, in 2018 we voted to keep Moses in the classroom. For some unknown reason, you members also rejected the recommendation of a working group to delete any mention of Hillary Clinton. Incidentally, it is said that Texas is so big that any textbooks we approve will be used by schools nationwide. Lucky them. Moving on, I no you thought that we were scheduled to meat in June to unveil our new kurriculum, but that date collided with a MAGA rally and a “Hang Mike Pence” spontanious demonstration. So we’ll meet next month when we’ll have to listen to public testimony by those who object to our brilliant decisions. To maximize public input from that mob, the meating is scheduled in the basement of the YMCA in Pecos from midnight to 2 a.m. at a date which will be published the day before. Whenever we meat, this time we face new challenges. Gov. Greg Abbott has practically taken over our public schools. He got a state law banning critical race theory from Texas classrooms, even though State Sen. Bryan Hughes, who introduced the bill, admitted that Texas schools don’t actually teach

critical race theory, but he wanted to press forward with his bill anyway. An ounce of prevenshun, I say. Our Legislachur and governor also banned books with “inappropriate content,” like those that discuss LGBTQ issues. And last year Gov. Abbott prohibited school districts and lokal governments from having mask mandates during COVID-19 surges. The teachers unions opposed his opposition requiring masks, that is, until a majority of the teachers died from COVID-19. In the Legislachur’s session coming up in January, Gov. Abbott wants the lawmakers to approve a “National Bill of Rights” which includes control over what kids are taught, an ability to veto a child’s grade advancement and vouchers to provide public funding for parents to send kids to private schools. This last item is significant. Gov. Abbott wants to divert our tax dollars for Texas’ public

schools to charter schools which can cherry-pick their students and are not burdened with silly rules like certifying teachers and clean restrooms. We should pass a resolution unanimously endorsing this plan. Our schools already have too much money, overpaid teachers and buildings that are guarded by armed troops so that nothing bad can happen there. There has bin a push by Sen. Ted Cruz to proteck our students by arming the teachers. Some call it “triggernomitry” while others wonder why, if we can’t trust our teachers to teach what we want and not teach critical race theories and sex edukashun, why should we trust them with AR-15s. I have appointed a blueribbon committee to come up with an explanashun. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has another suggestion: “We need to get down to one or two entrances to our schools. We have to funnel our students

into our schools so we can put eyes on them.” He will probably make excceptions for transgender students. You may have received komplaints from parents that under our leadership Texas schools aren’t doing so well. True, according to Education Week, a national education publication, Texas ranks 43rd in education, falling from 39th last year. It gave us a grade of C minus. When it comes to teachers pay, which they are always whining about, according to SalaryCom, which compares such things, Texas ranks 35th among the 50 states. (I still say our teachers are overpaid.) Local school districts have their own meddlesome school boards, which only get in our way. There have been fist fights, demonstrations and total chaos. The situation has become so bad students have had to step in to restore order. I suggest we vote to issue school board members flak jackets and

stop issuing bounties. Texas needs more guns! According to press reports – if we can believe those fake news outlets -- in the recent May elections, 900 school board elections were held, and 400 new members were elected. The former members were either DOA, MIA or are living under false names. In our next meating, we must consider whether the new textbooks should retain articles on segregation, labor unions and the so-called January 6 riots on the U.S. capitol. Is any mention of global warming and pollution really necessary? Also we have to reconsider bilingualism, but as one former governor of Texas, Ma Ferguson, supposedly said: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.” See you in Pecos. Ashby edukates at ashby2@comcast.net

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Page 4 • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • The Leader

NNMD, from P. 1A leen Egan, and construction took about a year. The NNMD paid 20 percent of the cost, while federal funds from the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) and Federal Transit Administration covered the remaining 80 percent, according to the project page on NNMD’s website. “This was a good project to put together and supply funding,” Egan said. “We knew that we were missing sidewalks. We had no bus shelters or anything. So we knew some infrastructure was needed.” Officials say the improvements will serve to improve public safety along West Little York, as well as facilitate access to METRO’s extended transit service. There is also an at-grade new connection to White Oak Bayou, which used to end at the edge of the Harris County Flood Control District’s detention basin, according to Norden, which will connect bikers to more parts of the area. “It’s a stake in the ground for what the future is going to look like,” Norden said. “It’s got a lot of personality to it.” Further, Houston METRO chairman Sanjay Ramabhadran said that increasing access to public transportation along the route is key

to helping attract and retain businesses and people in the area. Route 03 has local stops at Antoine Drive along West Little York as well as in Acres Homes. “Houstonians are hungry for transportation options, and looking for multimodal options – and these bus stop improvements are an integral part of what we are doing,” Ramabhadran said. “…They are looking for options, and public transit improvement is the way we keep them calling Houston home.” Norden echoed the sentiment. “Local businesses that are on this route, they’re excited because it shows support for all they’ve done,” he said. “There’s a lot of growth out here, and were demonstrating that we recognize that.” Ultimately, officials said the partnership and project was a step towards improving multimodal transportation options for all residents and businesses. For more information on the West Little York Pedestrian Improvements Project and what it entailed, visit the project webpage at nnmd.org/images/Livable-Centers-Plan/ NNMD_One_Pager_V2_compressed.pdf.

Contributed photo Officials with METRO and the Near Northwest Management District cut the ribbon on West Little York’s new bus shelter. It was part of a recently-completed pedestrian improvement project.

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Weekly Sunday Services • Bible Study: 9:15 a.m. • Morning:10:30 a.m. • Evening: 4:15 p.m.

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Online servicesa can be reached ro ra o ri p through the website below at 9:00 am. e se a el era or www.gethsemanelutheran.org Ad # 32285

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1700 West 43 rd at Rosslyn 713-682-4942

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4215 Watonga Blvd. • 713-681-9365

2003 W. 43rd St. 713-686-8241 s t s u m c . o r g

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502909 BriarHillcroft Hollow St. Ln Suite 695 SUITE W410 Houston, TX 77057 Houston, Texas 77027

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Arise Baptist Church 803 Curtin St. Houston TX 77018 713-659-9697 • www.arisebaptistchurch.org

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ost people living today have little to no understanding of what it is like to be a sheep or to be a shepherd. When Jesus lived and ministered here on this earth in his local culture shepherding was a very familiar occupation. As Jesus spoke, He often used the imagery of a shepherd working with sheep to explain truth to the people He was teaching. In John 10, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd. He was saying that the people were sheep and that they needed Him, the Good Shepherd to lead and guide them. Jesus even said that as the Good Shepherd, He would give His life for the sheep. While shepherding sheep is not a common occupation here in Houston, TX, people thinking that they know enough and can get

Houston, TX 77092

by just fine on their own is a very common thing today as it was in the days of Jesus. While the culture has changed, the pride of mankind has not changed. The political and religious leaders of Jesus’ day did not appreciate being told that they needed to follow God. They had defined God in their own terms and were happy to use their definitions of God to control the people around them. Jesus did not seek to control the people, but rather to point them to the truth. Jesus is the way to God. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the giver of life. Just as sheep need a shepherd to lead them, guide them, feed them, and protect them, we need Jesus to lead us, to guide us, to feed us, and to protect us. He is the giver of physical and eternal life. Don’t live life on your own terms trying to go your own way. Follow the good shepherd, Jesus Christ. He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. Listen and obey His Word.

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The Leader • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Page 5

Train, from P. 1A Justices Rebecca Huddle, Jimmy Blacklock and John Devine dissented, while Justice Jane Bland did not vote. The dissenting opinion said that though Transportation Code Section 131.012 granted eminentdomain authority to facilitate construction of small electric railways for horse-drawn buggies and trolleys, Texas Central’s project is on a much bigger scale. Thus, it does not fit under the statute, as Texas Central has claimed the project will require nearly three times the amount of concrete as the Hoover Dam, according to the opinion. The Texas Attorney General’s office had also previously questioned the project’s financial viability in an amicus brief filed Dec. 17, 2021 with the Texas Supreme Court. The court heard oral arguments for the case in January. “There are countless differences between the two modes of transportation,” according to the dissenting opinion. “The most important, which merits little mention by the court, is their radically different land-use requirements. The scale of infrastructure required and amount of property imperiled by the proposed high-speed train project are orders of magnitude larger.” The case before the Texas Supreme Court originated in rural Leon County in 2019, where property owner James F. Miles sued Texas Central and an affiliated company over their right to survey his land for the project. A state district court judge in Leon County ruled in Miles’ favor, but a Texas appellate court subsequently ruled in favor of Texas Central in May 2020, saying it is a valid railroad company and could therefore exercise eminent domain – the practice by which governments and traditional railroads can force property owners to sell their land. According to Texas Central’s website, the high speed rail project will transport passengers between Houston and Dallas – a 240-mile trip – in less than 90 minutes while traveling more than 200 miles per hour, and

Texas Central says the project will create thousands of new jobs along the route. The former Northwest Mall site near the intersection of U.S. 290, Loop 610 and Interstate 10 has been tabbed as the Houston station for the proposed railway. Multiple emails to Texas Central requesting comment on the ruling were not returned as of Tuesday afternoon, while the phone number provided on the company’s website as a hot line for the High Speed Rail project returned an automated message saying the number was not in service. The company hasn’t posted any press releases on the project website since September of 2020. Nonprofit organization Texans Against High Speed Rail, which has opposed construction of the project since the beginning, reiterated its stance following the ruling in a statement posted to Facebook on June 24 “Let us be clear that this ruling breathes no life into Texas Central or its project,” Miles said. “If Texas Central feels otherwise and decides to continue this charade, we will be there to challenge them each step of the way before they step one foot on our property.”

Photo from Texas Central Facebook Texas Central’s Texas High Speed Rail project is one that proponents claim will take passengers from Houston to Dallas in around 90 minutes at over 200 miles per hour.

Seghers, from P. 1A website reads. Earlier this spring, Seghers attended a two-day interview session for potential scholars in Dallas as one of 64 finalists for the scholarship. About a week later, during a Houstonarea meet and greet event for prospective students, he found out the university’s highest academic honor was his. “I was containing all this excitement and had to be quiet, but I couldn’t even focus on the presentation,” he said. “I was losing my mind that I had gotten it.” As to how he got the scholarship, he said it all came back down to his desire to always be better and being open to not always knowing the most in the room. From constantly asking questions to simply staying humble, he said he has always harbored that work ethic.

Contributed photo Heights High School valedictorian Julian Seghers was recently named a President’s Scholar by Southern Methodist University, one of just 20 incoming students to receive the honor.

And while some of the other prospective scholars hung out at a school-organized party the night before the inter-

views in late March, Seghers said he was in his hotel room studying a thick binder of extra essays, mock interviews,

Gonzalez, said was “false and defamatory.” “It’s false,” Gonzalez wrote to The Leader at the time, “all politics.” Gonzalez’s former sheriff’s department spokesman, Jason Spencer, tweeted that the domestic abuse story had been pitched to “every news outlet” in Houston, but that none would run it. “They spiked the story because it didn’t pass minimal journalism standards,” Spencer wrote. “Let that sink in.” But after a Republican Senator sought to delay final confirmation in light of the accusation, Democrats scrapped the vote. The claim was based on an affidavit from a former Houston Community College officer who claimed to have answered a previous call related to Melissa Gonzalez - a former employee

of HCC - according to committee investigation documents posted on Scribd Monday by the Houston Chronicle. (https://www.scribd.com/ document/580049682/Gonzalez-Allegations-Summary-ofHSGAC-Inquiry-FINAL) However, the committee’s investigation into the allegations found no evidence to support the claims. His former spokesman Spencer, a resident of Oak Forest, took to Twitter again Monday after Gonzalez’s decision to withdraw from consideration. “DC politics will remain hopelessly broken if there’s no room for decent, humble, and cool-headed public servants like (Gonzalez),” Spencer wrote. “He could’ve brought thoughtful, compassionate leadership to ICE, an agency desperately in need of it.”

Gonzalez, from P. 1A posted. ICE has not had a confirmed director for more than five years, since the end of the Obama Administration. Gonzalez was raised in the Heights, attending Field Elementary and Hamilton Middle schools, became a Houston police officer, then represented District H on Houston City Council for three terms before being elected sheriff in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. Biden nominated Gonzalez to the federal post in April 2021 — raising concerns as Gonzalez had twice very publicly broken with ICE as sheriff, though he was still confirmed in a vote along party lines. But soon after his confirmation hearing, the accusation of domestic violence was brought to the HSGAC that Gonzalez denied and his wife, Melissa

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and more in preparation for his 9 a.m. call time. “This was the most important thing in my entire life. I went in thinking ‘This is it.’ It honestly was kind of overwhelming,” Seghers said.” Being able to keep my calm and cool, but acknowledging how much they were investing in me – it was a lot…I really didn’t want to mess it up.” As evident by the end result, his dedication paid off. Seghers has also been named an SMU Cox School of Business BBA Scholar and been accepted into the University Honors Program. He plans to double major in business and biological Sciences at SMU,

partly because he wants to keep his options open. He was blown away by SMU’s business school, he said, but also said his family has long been involved in medicine. “I want to be a place where I’m actively making an impact on the people around me, having a chance to lead people and influence them,” he said. “(SMU) is letting me balance my passion for this, because it allows me to maximize my different pathways.” Seghers has accomplished plenty in his academic career. He is a valedictorian and a President’s Scholar. Late last month, he won the Dr.

Kenneth Lay $4,000 scholarship award from the Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Association of Greater Houston. During his high school days, he helped grow Heights’ debate team from around 10-12 his freshman year to more than 40 by his senior year. But wouldn’t ever dream that he already knows it all, or has every skill necessary to achieve his dreams. He knows it will always take more work. “If anything, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room to be successful,” he said. “Always knowing there’s something more you can learn allows you to do well.”

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The Leader • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Page 6

Art Valet: Take a tropical staycation at artist studios MITCH COHEN Art Columnist

Three studio artists have a vacation plan that will save you time, money and hassle with their themed art show, “Tropical Staycation!” The free event takes place Friday, July 8, 2022, 7 – 10 p.m., at Winter Street Studios #A4.5, 2101 Winter St., Houston, TX 77007. The invitation says it all; “Summer is here! Gas prices are too high or don’t have the time to get away? No need to worry, we’ve got you covered. We will have all summer and tropical art, festive food and cocktails with music by Uncle Charlie. Have your staycation here!” The three entrepreneurial artists with a penchant for the tropics are Angela Rose Walling, Crystal Wreden and Teresa Staley. I met all three through my markets and each has their own unique style of painting. What they have in common is a drive to learn, expand and share their art with the world. Angela Rose Walling was visiting First Saturday Arts Market, and talking about getting in “one day” with me, long before she became an

artist there. Her enthusiasm for life is as bright as her abstract paintings, and her color palette could be described as “wear sunglasses.” Kidding aside, if an artist’s work reflects that artist’s personality, then Walling’s work screams, let’s have fun! Born and raised in Houston, Walling, is a self taught painter and maintains a full-time job in addition to her studio. Art Valet: Tell me about your painting background. Walling: “I have always been creative but I didn’t paint my first oil until my late 20’s,” Walling said. “In my mid 40’s I discovered acrylic abstracts and it has been my calling. Acrylic Landscapes and Abstracts. I grew up in a very creative household with both my Mom and Sister having art degrees. I would have to give Bob Ross most credit for teaching me how to paint.” Walling has a clothing line featuring her vibrant abstracts too. Follow Walling on Instagram for more: https://www. instagram.com/angelarosewalling/ Crystal Wreden is originally from Atlanta Georgia and works in sales when she’s not painting Houston landscapes (currently) in oil and acrylics. Wreden attended The Market at Sawyer Yards, where we met, and had one of the most creative first time art displays I’ve seen. Wreden was attending

Contributed photo From left, Crystal Wreden, Teresa Staley and Angela Walling are ready for a Tropical Staycation

many of the outdoor markets in Houston before joining Walling and Staley at Winter St. Studios. AV: When did you first start creating art? Wreden: “When I was little I would sit near my mom and color with crayons while she painted,” Wreden said. “As I got older she started letting me use more and more of her art supplies, basically everything except for the oil paints which aren’t the best medium

for a child anyways.” AV: How long have you been at Glassell School of the Art? Tell us about that. “Over the years I painted as a hobby and started taking classes at the Glassell School in 2018,” Wreden said. “Since then my technical skills have definitely gotten a lot better and my art practice has benefited from the guidance, coursework and critiques. The past couple classes I have taken were advanced painting

with Brian Portman and I plan to take his class again this fall. I’d recommend the Glassell for anyone looking to develop in their art or for anyone looking to learn something new. Since the classes are a semester long it is a definite commitment both time-wise and financially, but for me it has been definitely worth it.” AV: Do you like the studio? “I’m really enjoying being at Winter Street, I think having a fixed space to hang paintings helps me focus on the layout and flow of a collection as a whole,” Wreden said. “And it’s been great sharing the space with Angela and Teresa!” See more art by Crystal Wreden on her website: www. crystalwreden.com. Teresa Staley describes her work as a merging of romantic fantasy and realism. Born in Australia but raised in Houston, Staley attended the Art Institute of Houston, graduating with honors with a degree in Visual Communications. She’s owned a decorative painting and mural business for over 20 years and painting is literally on her mind, all of the time. Staley works primarily in acrylic, oil, digital and mixed media. Her favorite subject matter includes exotic and powerful women from different cultures, pop art and mixed media abstracts. Staley’s accolades are many between her “Mural and Faux by Design” business and her

paintings. We didn’t get a chance to talk before I wrote this story, but looking back through my emails, I found this statement by Staley about her artwork. “My art is continually evolving, found through life’s experiences, observations, and experimentation with many different mediums,” Staley wrote. “My greatest joy is to paint, draw, design and create in many different forms without limits. My life’s work has been in the arts; this is what I know and love best.” Staley is on the web at h t t p : / / w w w. mu r a l s f a u x bydesign.com/ “Tropical Staycation!” Friday, July 8, 2022, 7 – 10 p.m., at Winter Street Studios #A4.5, 2101 Winter St., Houston, TX 77007. Use entrance door A, their studio will be open Saturday noon - 5 p.m. for Second Saturday Open Studios at Sawyer Yards. Remember that the First Saturday Arts Market is not open this Saturday. Find Crystal Wreden and many of the other artists at BAM! Art Market, August 13, 12-8 p.m., at Silver Street Studios. Details on my website. Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and The Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.

Review: Sunday Press impresses with fresh, healthy choices By Dan Greer news@theleadernews.com

Let me tell you up front. I was aware that Sunday Press wasn’t going to be my usual meat-and-potatoes kind of place. I’m a guy who would normally choose a chicken fried steak and sweet tea over Strawberry & Crème Fraiche and Butterfly Pea Tea Latte. And yes, those are on the menu here. Upon entering Sunday Press, 3315 Ella Blvd., you’ll notice it is spotlessly clean and orderly with a bright and pleasant feel. It’s a younger crowd, thus smart phones and laptops abound. Even so, there was plenty of conversation going on and you get the sense this is a place you can relax amid the overhanging plants and cheery natural light. There is a large menu on the wall next to the glass counter containing a cornucopia of sweet treats, including many varieties of flashy macarons. You order at the counter and take your food back to the table. The young staff was enthusiastic and helpful. If desired, they will heat your order up and bring it to you. Most everything you see is made in-house. I will eat a salad … when coerced. Don’t tell my bud-

A variety of sweet treats, including macarons, are available at Sunday Press.

dies, but on this day I decided to try Cassie’s Signature Salad, hoping to counteract some recent poor nutritional choices. It turns out, against all biased odds on my part, that this salad was the star of the show. If $10.75 sounds like a lot for a salad in a plastic to-go container, I would normally agree. But this bountiful, leafy creation packs a punch and could easily be shared. Fresh romaine, cabbage, parsley and cucumber make up the green stuff. Toss in some cherry tomatoes, red onions, sweet peppers, dates and … wait for it … candied pecans, and you have a virtual symphony of flavors. However, the MVP of this

salad is the house creamy Mediterranean Vinaigrette. I would eat/drink it eight days a week. I hope Sunday Press bottles, markets and sells this wondrous purple elixir. On a second visit we tried several other items. The bacon, egg and cheese breakfast taco was up to par with ample ingredients, but lacked the zing you would get from a good taqueria, which is my baseline for these critical comparisons. The pre-packaged chicken salad sandwich was on fresh bread with crust removed. It was creamy and tasty with the requisite Granny Smith apples, celery, red onions and plenty of chicken. The hot Italian sandwich

Photo by Dan Greer

with salami, pepperoni, ham, mozzarella, Italian herb butter and giardiniera peppers on a ciabatta bun was decent but not a show-stopper. The White Chocolate Macadamia cookie had good flavor but I found it to be on the dry side. It wasn’t Ree Drummonds’ recipe, but it was probably healthier. Choices, choices. They have many unique beverage choices. My cappuccino was smooth and creamy, just as I like it. Maybe next time I’ll live on the wild side and sample the Honey Lavender London Fog. They have a points program that rewards you on future visits. And check out their fun “Events” tab on

Photo by Dan Greer Cassie’s Signature Salad: Cassie’s Signature Salad at Sunday Press, 3315 Ella Blvd., features romaine, cabbage, parsley, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onions, sweet peppers, dates, candied pecans and a creamy Mediterranean vinaigrette.

their website, sunday-press. com. Maybe join them for “National Tell a Joke Day.” We could all use a laugh these days, am I right? Rather than being a coffee shop that offers food as an afterthought, Sunday Press has better food offerings than many of its chain competitors and provides an inviting atmosphere for working, studying or just enjoying a nice, relaxing latté with a friend. There is a drive-through available for morning commuters. Online ordering is available, too.

Sunday Press is located on bustling Ella Boulevard. Sunday Press Address: 3315 Ella Blvd. Dining options: Dine-in, takeout, drive-through Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily Entrée prices: $2.95-$10.75 Beverage prices: $3-$7 Kid-friendly: Yes (kids meals available) Senior discount: No Alcohol: No Healthy options: Yes (in abundance) Star of the show: Cassie’s Signature Salad Rating: 3.5 out of 5 bites

Nibbles & Sips: Local spots hosting Independence Day celebrations bar featuring wine and more. For more information and to stay up to date on the impending opening, follow the restaurant @sushibytheheights on Instagram.

By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

With July 4 right around the corner, several neighborhood dining spots are among those hosting special events next week to celebrate the holiday. Bobcat Teddy’s Ice House, 2803 White Oak Dr. in the Heights, will have live music by Chris Goodwin, according to a Facebook post. The bar and restaurant will also serve customers complimentary burgers and hot dogs during the celebration from noon-7 p.m. Additionally, Berg Hospitality Group restaurants B.B. Lemon (1809 Washington Avenue) and B&B Butchers (1814 Washington Avenue) will be open for the holiday. B.B Lemon will host a 4th of July brunch with DJ Mohawk Steve from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and B&B Butchers will serve dinner from 4-9 p.m. according to the restaurant

Photo from Facebook B&B Butchers is one of the local dining spots hosting Independence Day celebrations next week.

websites. In addition to its regular menu, B&B Butchers’ website says the restaurant will also serve its Wagyu Dogs – two hot dogs with all the fixings accompanied by its steak fries – for $18. For more information on the events, visit bbbutchers.

com and bblemon.com Sushi by the Heights opening next month There is another sushi restaurant coming to the local area within the next few weeks. According to the restau-

Contributed photo Sushi by the Heights, which hoping to open at 1111 Studewood St., Suite B by the middle of next month, will offer cuisine such as the sushi shown.

rant, Sushi by the Heights is tentatively planning to open its doors at the site of the former Studewood Bar

and Grill, 1111 Studewood St., Suite B, in mid-July. The restaurant will offer various kinds of sushi as well as a

Northside Village restaurant celebrating third anniversary Monkey’s Tail, a bar and restaurant at 5802 Fulton St., will celebrate its third anniversary in the area this Sunday, and is hosting a special celebration to commemorate it. On Sunday, the restaurant’s Facebook page says it will host an all-day celebration from 11 a.m.-2 a.m., and will serve brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The event will also include a Doggy Fashion Show and costume contest from 12-1:30pm, a churro stand, a mariachi band, a DJ and more. For more information, follow @monkeystailhou on Facebook.


The Leader • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Page 7

Keeping your backyard birds safe from your outdoor cat

Dear Tabby, We’re having trouble with our indoor/outdoor cat killing the birds in our yard. As avid bird watchers, this is very distressing, but we love our cat and want what’s best for him too. Any suggestions on how to keep him from hurting our birds? Cat-Owning Bird-Lovers in The Heights Dear Cat-Owning BirdLovers, It’s really an age-old trope, isn’t it? The pampered, beloved (not to mention well-fed) housecat who has an insatiable appetite for backyard birds. The crux of the issue is that cats have a prey drive and, when given the chance, will pounce on anything with feathers. As bird lovers, it’s difficult to strike a balance between entertaining your cat and keeping your backyard birds safe. Here are some ideas for decreasing the bird murders in your yard: Leading with the obvious… Not to be trite, but the best way to keep your cat from killing your birds is to keep him inside only. Unfortunately, once a cat has had a taste of the freedom that comes from living outdoors, it can often be hard to convert them to being an indoors-only creature. The good news is that with a lot of patience and a little tenacity, you can help your cat to have a change of heart about going outdoors. Be sure to keep him entertained inside with lots of play time and use toys that stimulate his prey drive and offer lots of good perches near

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feeders all together and rely on getting your bird watching fix by visiting area parks and nature preserves. It’s estimated that cats kill at least 19 million songbirds and 140,000 game birds each year. For some cats, these birds serve as their food source, but for many pet cats, bird killing is just sport. With a little patience, planning and care, you can work to ensure that your cat and your birds can coexist on the same piece of property while minimizing the carnage that your cat might like to inflict. To love a cat is to understand that they have primal urges-sometimes involving killing other animals--so come to terms with this and then offer alternatives to scratch your cat’s primal itches in a peaceful way.

windows so that he can experience the outdoors within the safety of your home. Try supervised outside time If your cat just can’t handle the prospect of never going outside again, see if he will respond to walking on a harness and leash. This will give him the outside time that he craves while keeping your birds safe. Also popular are “catios,” which are screened in porches for cats to experience the outdoors behind the safety of screens and shutters. Move your bird feeders If your cat refuses to live indoors only, move your bird feeders to parts of your yard where your cat doesn’t frequent. For instance, if your cat loves your front porch, make sure not to put a bird feeder near his favorite spot. Choose a remote part of your yard in which to feed your birds or, do away with bird

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Page 8 • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • The Leader

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The Leader • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Page 9

Prescription-only medical marijuana dispensary opens in Greater Heights By Charlotte Aguilar caguilar@mcelvypartners.com

Medical-grade marijuana — narrowly available to patients in Texas since legislation in 2015 and expanded last year — has become easier to access locally with the recent opening of the Houston area’s first permanent by-prescription dispensary in the Greater Heights. Texas Original (TXOG), located in a 1,776-square-foot storefront at 1714 Houston Ave., is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, dispensing three categories of cannabis products to patients identified in the Texas Compassionate Use Act (https://guides.sll.texas.gov/cannabis/ compassionate-use). Qualifying conditions — those in which research shows improvement or relief with use of medical marijuana — include autism, cancer, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It’s estimated that 2 million Texans qualify for medical marijuana use. “This is a monumental step forward for medical cannabis access in Houston,” said Texas Original’s CEO, Morris Denton, in a statement. “Patients in one of the most populated cities in the country can now locally pick up their life-changing medication five days a week…Reliable and convenient access to medicine is what all patients deserve.” The brick storefront operates under highly complex state regulations, controlled by the Texas Department of Public Safety. For instance, products can’t legally be stored overnight on site, so they are transported daily from the company’s Austin headquarters and returned after closing. TXOG’s products — including sprays, gummies, tinctures and lozenges — are available by prescription only through physicians registered with the Compassionate Use program. The dispensary has on-site medical personnel who can facilitate getting qualified patients into the program. Texas Original is one of three licensed medical cannabis providers in the state, able to offer products with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the chemical that creates the marijuana “high.” While CBD (cannabidiol) stores and booths have become staples of strip malls and farmers markets, the hempderived chemical by itself doesn’t have psychoactive properties, according to the Harvard Medical School, but is used in medical marijuana, including some of the products dispensed by Texas Original. The three types of products produced and dispensed by the company include THConly, balanced formulations which include similar levels of THC and CBD, and highCBD products. Each is used to treat specific diseases or conditions. The TXOG products are unusual for prescription medications beyond their chemical composition, with flavors such as sour peach mango and strawberry passion fruit gummies and agave lime lozenges. The company controls the entire process from seed to manufacture and reports it is nearing completion on a new 96,000-square-

Contributed photo Texas Original is the first medical marijuana dispensary in the Houston area, filling prescriptions five days a week at 1714 Houston Ave. in the Greater Heights.

Contributed photo Pictured is the interior of Texas Original at 1714 Houston Ave., which opened last week.

foot, state-of-the-art medical cannabis cultivation and processing facility on 25 acres in Bastrop County. In addition to the new dispensary, TXOG also operates two pop-up pickup locations

Photo from Twitter The company offers three different formulations of medical marijuana in products including gummies, tinctures, sprays and lozenges.

with limited hours in north Houston and Katy. The other two companies licensed by the DPS as medical cannabis providers are Fluent and Goodblend, both with limited service in Houston. There are also medical

Business Briefs: Waltrip grad tabbed to lead HCSCC board By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

A graduate of a local high school has been appointed as the new head of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation (HCSCC). Bishop James Dixon, who graduated from Waltrip High School, was tabbed as the organization’s new chairman earlier this week, according to a news release from HCSCC and NRG Park. Dixon, who has served on the organization’s board of directors since 2018, will succeed outing chairman Edgar Colon. His appointment comes ahead of several notable events that will make their way to NRG in the coming years, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four in 2023, the College Football Playoffs in 2024, and the 2026 World Cup. He has served as a community advocate for several organizations, including the AntiDefamation League-The Coalition of Mutual Respect, Harris County Racial and Ethnic Disparities Committee “By leading through consensus building, I look forward to making the citizens of Harris County and the greater Houston area proud with the experience they will have here at NRG Park,” Dixon said. After graduating from Waltrip, HCSCC said Dixon

Photo from Facebook Waltrip graduate James Dixon, pictured, has been tabbed to lead the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation.

attended Houston Baptist University and Texas Southern University before graduating from Oikodome College of Biblical Studies. He also has a Masters of Ministry from Richmond Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from Virginia University Lynchburg and Seminary. For more information on the HCSCC, visit its website at nrgpark.com/hcscc/. Heights bar donating funds to abortion funding A local bar is donating proceeds one day this weekend to abortion funding in the aftermath of the Supreme Court overturning

Roe vs. Wade last week. Johnny’s Gold Brick, 2518 Yale St., said in an Instagram post June 24 that all sales proceeds from this coming Saturday will be donated to Texas-based Abortion Access Funds. “We have long been outspoken in our belief that abortion is a fundamental part of reproductive healthcare and that it should be safe and readily accessible to all women and families regardless of which state you live in or how much money you have,” the bar wrote. National nonprofit offering grants to Texas businesses

Founders First CDC, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, recently announced its second round of business grants aimed at helping minority-owned businesses in the state of Texas. There will be 30 Job Creators Quest grants awarded to diverse-led companies located in the north, central east or south Texas regions, with a current staff of 2-20 employees and the ability to add 1-2 net new premium wage jobs in the next 12 months, according to a news release from the organization. To be eligible, the company’s founder must be Black, indigenous, a person of color, LGBTQIA+, a military veteran, a woman or located in a low-to-moderate income area and be a forprofit company with annual revenues between $100,000 and $3 million. Interested Houston companies can visit foundersfirstcdc.org/texas through July 25 to apply. “With the rising cost of living, it can be challenging for families let alone business owners to stay afloat, particularly when it costs them more to provide goods and services for their consumers,” said Shaylon Scott, executive director of Founders First. “We are happy to be able to invest money and resources in hard working business owners throughout Texas to help them thrive.”

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The Leader • Saturday, July 2, 2022 • Page 10

Man found dead inside car in Central Northwest By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Police are searching for suspects in connection to the shooting death of a man found in a car early Thursday morning in the Central Northwest neighborhood, according to the Houston Police Department.

The identity of the 28-year-old man is still pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences according to Michele Arnold, a spokesperson for the medical examiner. Officers responded at about 12:15 a.m. Thursday to 5198 Antoine Dr., police

Police Reports • June 22-28 JUNE 22

Theft 6 PM 700 BLOCK OF LAWRENCE Theft 6 PM 3300 BLOCK OF WHITE OAK DR

JUNE 23

Theft 1 PM 00 BLOCK OF W 34TH Theft 8 PM 1500 BLOCK OF WAVERLY Theft 8 PM 2600 BLOCK OF AIRLINE Theft 11 PM 6100 BLOCK OF ABINGTON WAY Theft 5 PM 2000 BLOCK OF SHEPHERD DR N Theft 8 AM 1900 BLOCK OF HEIGHTS BLVD Theft 4 PM 400 BLOCK OF 19TH ST W Other 10 AM 400 BLOCK OF 31ST ST E Assault 11 AM 1100 BLOCK OF 26TH ST W Other 9 AM 500 BLOCK OF 42ND ST E

JUNE 24

Theft 3 PM 100 BLOCK OF LOOP N Other 1 PM 400 BLOCK OF 42ND ST E Theft 4 PM 00 BLOCK OF CROSSTIMBERS ST E Theft 7 AM 2100 BLOCK OF SHEPHERD DR N Arrest 2 AM 2000 BLOCK OF DURHAM DR N

JUNE 25

Theft 6 PM 500 BLOCK OF 19TH ST W Vandalism 3 AM 1900 BLOCK OF HEIGHTS BLVD Theft 5 PM 2300 BLOCK OF LAWRENCE Vandalism 8 PM 1400 BLOCK OF 24TH ST W Theft 2 PM 2100 BLOCK OF YALE Theft 6 PM 2500 BLOCK OF YALE Theft 2 AM 300 BLOCK OF 27TH Theft 2 PM 900 BLOCK OF WINSTON Theft 4 PM 700 BLOCK OF 37TH ST E Theft 9 PM 1200 BLOCK OF 20TH ST W Theft 11 PM 400 BLOCK OF E 41ST Assault 9 AM 00 BLOCK OF CROSSTIMBERS ST E Arrest 2 AM 2000 BLOCK OF DURHAM DR

Theft 7 AM 4400 BLOCK OF BUSIEK Theft 6 AM 4300 BLOCK OF EUROPA

JUNE 26

Thef 8 PM 400 BLOCK OF HEIGHTS BLVD S Theft 6 PM 1500 BLOCK OF 18TH ST W Assault 4 PM 1800 BLOCK OF DURHAM Theft 4 PM 1800 BLOCK OF DURHAM Theft 3 PM 4000 BLOCK OF KOEHLER Theft 2 PM 4300 BLOCK OF AIRLINE Theft 3 PM 800 BLOCK OF USENER Theft 2 AM 200 BLOCK OF PATTON Theft 3 PM 100 BLOCK OF 20TH ST W Burglary 5 AM 800 BLOCK OF AURORA Theft 4 PM 1900 BLOCK OF T C JESTER BLVD E Assault 2 AM 200 BLOCK OF CROSSTIMBERS ST E

JUNE 27

Theft 6 PM 500 BLOCK OF 20TH ST W Theft 9 PM 400 BLOCK OF 26TH ST W Theft 8 PM 1100 BLOCK OF 25TH ST W Theft 9 PM1900 BLOCK OF W 14TH Theft 7 AM 500 BLOCK OF 20TH ST W Theft 7 AM 900 BLOCK OF 22ND ST W Theft 9 AM 800 BLOCK OF BEVERLY

JUNE 28

Theft 7 AM 100 BLOCK OF 20TH ST W Theft 7 AM 400 BLOCK OF ROGERS ST E Other 11 AM 1200 BLOCK OF AURORA Vandalism 6 PM 1200 BLOCK OF 17TH ST W Theft 4 AM 1500 BLOCK OF T C JESTER BLVD W Theft 10 AM 1200 BLOCK OF 34TH ST W Theft 7 AM 700 BLOCK OF 42ND ST W Reports are provided by SpotCrime.com based on data from the Houston Police Department.

said, to find the victim unresponsive in the driver’s seat of a car with the engine running. There were bullet holes in the driver’s side door and windshield, according to HPD. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the department. The man had been shot multiple times, accord-

ing to HPD. Anyone with information on the origins of the shooting is asked to contact HPD’s Homicide division at 713-308-3600 or Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-2228477.

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A man was shot and killed last week near a home in the Northside Village area and investigators are searching for suspects, according to the Houston Police Department. Luis Espinoza, 29, was pronounced dead at Ben Taub General Hospital on June 18, according to HPD. Officers responded to a shooting call just before noon on June 18, police said, to find Espinoza with

multiple gunshot wounds in the driver’s seat of a Jeep Cherokee. He had crashed into a pole at 5600 Cochran St., according to police, but was shot at 1200 Fairbanks St. a short distance away. There are no known suspects in the ongoing investigation, HPD said. Anyone with information in the incident is urged to contact HPD’s Homicide division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713222-8477.

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Man killed in drive-by shooting outside relative’s home By Landan Kuhlmann landan@theleadernews.com

Police are searching for a black vehicle in connection to the drive-by shooting death of a man outside his relative’s home in Northside Village, according to the Houston Police Department. Investigators declined to release the name of the dead man, saying they were waiting for verification from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, according to the department. Witnesses told police the man was at a relative’s house at about 8:30 p.m.

Monday in the 1300 block of Fairbanks Street when a black car drove near the home and someone inside began shooting, striking the man, according to the department. The car was last seen headed west on Fairbanks, according to HPD. Police said the victim was taken to Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital by private car, where he was pronounced dead. Anyone with information in this case is asked to reach out to HPD’s Homicide division at 713308-3600 or speak anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 713-222-8477.

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