HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Four people were killed, including a 4-year-old girl, in an apparent murder-suicide Thursday in northwest Harris County, according to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said the victims were a woman, her 4-year-old daughter and her mother. Gonzalez said investigators think the woman's estranged husband is responsible and said a semi-automatic pistol was found next to his body. None of them have been officially identified by authorities.
Gonzalez tweeted about the incident around 9:20 a.m. It happened at the Commons at the Vintage Park apartments in the 9700 block of Cypresswood Drive just northeast of Highway 249.
Gonzalez said the four people were found dead inside an apartment unit and there was no active threat within the complex.
During a news conference, Gonzalez said that the wife of the suspect didn't show up for work Thursday morning at a school connected to a mosque. That's when deputies were then called to investigate and found the four bodies inside the apartment.
Gonzalez said the couple appears to have been estranged and going through the process of a formal separation or divorce. He said there was a history of ongoing issues between them.
Gonzalez said that there was an investigation into allegations that the father possibly tried to injure the 4-year-old daughter by drowning her a few weeks ago.
There was another incident where the estranged husband was accused of slashing the tires on his wife's vehicle.
Neighbors startled by shootings
Neighbors said the complex is a relatively quiet place so when gunshots rang out Thursday morning, they knew something was wrong.
“Roughly around 7:30 or so this morning ... four shots, then a pause, then another two shots,” Angelique Lee said.
Lee later found out she knew the family involved. She said another neighbor heard more gunshots after she left for work.
“It’s just crazy how you see someone one instant and you would never fathom that something like this would happen,” Lee said. “All we can do is stay prayed up ... you never know what someone is going through.”
Neighbor Christine Faldenbaum said she hated to hear more lives were lost to domestic violence.
“Our prayers are definitely with the family at this time,” Faldenbaum said. “My kids are 6, 4 and 3, and that just hits home.”
Alicia Correa brought an orchid to the scene to honor the memory of the girl who was killed. She wrote, "My heart and prayers are with you" on another bouquet.
“It just breaks my heart that people who love each other so much can really, you know, in that heat of the passion, resort to something like that,” Correa said.
Resources for victims of domestic or family violence
Domestic and family violence cases in the Houston area have increased at an alarming rate. Victims often suffer in silence because they feel scared, helpless or ashamed.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, here are some discreet ways to reach out for help.
The Houston Area Women’s Center has a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence at 713-528-2121 or 1-800-256-0551.
The Family Time Crisis Center can also be reached 24-hours a day at 281-446-2615.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741.
Or text LOVEIS to 22522.