A man killed five of his neighbors, including a child, in a rural town north of Houston late Friday night. Wilson Garcia, whose wife and son were murdered, told the Associated Press that neighbors had “respectfully” asked the suspect to shoot his rifle farther from their home and called the police five times before the man approached and began firing. More than 200 law enforcement officers were still searching for the alleged shooter as of Sunday night. At a news conference earlier that day, the FBI agent in charge of the manhunt said officers have “zero leads.”
The Texas Tribune reports that police released the names of the victims: Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, a third grader. Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, is receiving criticism for calling the victims “illegal immigrants” in a statement offering condolences to the families and a $50,000 reward for information about the shooter. At least one victim was a legal permanent resident, according to a Texas-based community organizer.
Over the past decade, Texas lawmakers have steadily loosened gun restrictions, often following a high-profile mass shooting in the state. Family members of the victims of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde are currently urging legislators to pass a bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon to 21.
Programming note: The Trace is taking a few days off for a staff retreat to plan projects for the next year. The Bulletin will return Thursday, a little later than usual, with a wrap-up of the week’s news.
From Our Team
Three years after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration created a committee meant to hold the city accountable for reducing violence, records indicate that the group hasn’t met since June 2021 — and that it’s now defunct after convening just two times. Of the more than two dozen participating organizations The Trace contacted, several were left in the dark about the committee’s apparent end, and others were confused about being included at all when their members had never attended a meeting.
What happened to the Violence Prevention Planning Committee, and why did it end so quietly? Chicago reporter Rita Oceguera has the story.
What to Know Today
ICYMI: Amid mounting criticism of active shooter drills in schools as ineffective and often traumatic, New York lawmakers are taking steps to reduce their frequency. [The Trace]
A federal judge granted a temporary injunction that blocks enforcement of Illinois’s assault weapons ban, ruling that the law “completely obliterated” the right to self-defense in some cases. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has called for the legislature to expand a state law that allows courts to disarm people accused of domestic violence. But the dispossession process, and Lee’s proposal to make it available to the general public, has a dangerous loophole. [ProPublica and WPLN/Nashville Public Radio]
Colorado has four new laws aimed at curbing gun violence on the books: Governor Jared Polis signed legislation that raises the minimum age to buy any guns to 21, establishes a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, strengthens the state’s red flag law, and makes it easier to sue the firearm industry. [The Colorado Sun]
Schools across the country have instituted emergency protocols for active shooter situations. Why do the policies often leave out students with disabilities? [HuffPost]
Philadelphia’s anti-violence grant program infused millions into 31 community organizations to curb record levels of gun violence without involving law enforcement. But the city’s politicized selection process sent the cash to some nascent nonprofits that weren’t prepared to handle the money — or deliver on their proposals. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
A new poll shows that more than 80 percent of voters favor addressing gun violence in the U.S. by enacting universal background checks, passing red flag measures, raising the legal age to purchase a firearm to 21, and requiring buyers to pass mental health checks. [Fox News]
A “smart gun” that uses facial recognition and fingerprint verification to authorize its owner — and no one else — to fire is available for preorder. The company behind the technology says it’s the first in the country to develop a smart gun for the market. [NPR]
In Uvalde, a Community Struggles for Reform Amid Grief: After the funerals, residents continue to pressure Texas officials to address gun access. It may become a fight that spans generations. (November 2022)