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Houston authorities remained in the dark on Saturday as to why a 39-year-old gunman shot and killed a man and wounded his wife in the city’s aquarium on Thursday night.
But they did reveal some information about the criminal record of dead suspect Danny Cazares, who authorities allege turned his gun on himself after shooting the couple.
Cazares was released on bail last April after being detained on charges of being a felon in possession of a gun, Houston FOX 26 reported.
In October 2020, according to the broadcaster, Cazares was released on bail after being arrested for allegedly damaging a motel room.
HOUSTON AQUARIUM SHOOT LEAVES 2 DEAD, INCLUDING SUSPECT; 1 WOUNDED
In a third case, he was released on bail after being arrested for trespassing at a fire station, the report said.
The circumstances that helped get Cazares out of custody at least three times were of concern in Harris County, which includes Houston. Last week the Houston Chronicle published a report arguing that killings related to defendants on bail created a crisis in the judicial system.
“Texans would be alive today if there were stricter bail bond laws,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott wrote on Twitter on Saturday in response to the Chronicle’s report.
The Republican added that he made bond insurance reform an “emergency” at the legislature’s special session that began Thursday.
“Like it or not, we are in the middle of a bond pandemic in the state of Texas,” added Andy Kahan, a victim attorney for Crime Stoppers of Houston.
“Like it or not, we are in the middle of a bond pandemic in the state of Texas.”
– Andy Kahan, Crime Stoppers of Houston
During an appearance on Saturday night on Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine, Kahan spoke of another case in which a defendant allegedly committed a heinous crime, seven times this time.
27-year-old defendant Zacchaeus Gaston remained at large Saturday after being accused of killing a young Houston mother, Kahan told hostess Jeanine Pirro.
There are dozens of similar cases. For example, in May 2020, a driver was killed after being followed by two men after cashing his paycheck, the newspaper reported. The shooter had been released on bail after previous allegations of aggravated robbery and gun possession charges, according to the Chronicle.
In 2020, nearly 19,000 defendants were charged with new crimes and offenses after their release – a number that has tripled since 2015, the newspaper reported. Many of the cases were murders, according to the Chronicle.
As of 2015, more than 63,000 defendants who were released on bail have been charged with the crime, the report added.
The newspaper cited data from the Harris County Attorney’s Office, Harris County Pre-Trial Services and the Harris County District Secretary’s office, the report said.
Some criminal justice experts and police officers interviewed by the newspaper have alleged that Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston area in 2017, helped create a backlog in the courts, and the coronavirus pandemic – which led many defendants out Released for health reasons – helped spark an increase in crime.
The following also lead to the release of the defendants: Federal and state norms that prohibit excessive bail or bail costs.
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“It’s easy to look at cases in isolation, but remember that individuals are considered innocent and each case is looked at individually by reviewing the entirety of the circumstances,” Democrat Kelli Johnson told The Chronicle.
Regarding Thursday’s aquarium shootout, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Democrat, told FOX 26 that he believed there was little authorities could have done to prevent it.
“I don’t care how many cops you had, it wouldn’t have prevented this incident,” Turner told FOX 26.
“Things just happen everywhere,” added the mayor, “and we just have to do everything we can to keep people safe.”