Authorities reported two murder-suicides in less than 24 hours in Harris County, and both happened with children nearby.
The latest was Wednesday morning, when Sheriff Ed Gonzales said a man killed his common law wife, then himself in Channelview.
His 15-year-old brother was sleeping in the same small apartment unit.
He’s the one who found them and called 911.
“Right now, I’m feeling like I should have done more,” Lori Graham, who lived below the family for two years, said. “I left an abusive husband, so I know the signs and I tried. I tried to tell her, ‘You need help.’ Every night we would hear the banging upstairs. Now, we know it was him throwing her around against the dresser. Against this, against that.”
Early Wednesday morning, her cameras captured who she and other neighbors confirm is the man grabbing his gun from his car.
He goes off camera, and you immediately hear four gunshots back-to-back.
Soon after, police arrived.
The 15-year-old is now being cared for by Child Protective Services.
“It’s tragic that a teenager has to experience this. There is trauma that is involved in that, and we hope for the betterment of his future that he’s able to get the help and support needed,” Gonzalez said. “In our county, a lot of our murders are a result of domestic violence. Across the country, it’s my understanding that about 11 of them happen every week, and hundreds occur every year.”
The incident in Channelview was less than 24 hours apart from another murder-suicide in Spring, where Harris County deputies say a mother shot her 6-year-old daughter.
Her other children, aged 13 and 16, found their bodies.
“Everybody knows how hard the pandemic hit us mentally and socially and emotionally,” Christina Runnels, a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and the owner of Greater Houston Counseling Services, said. “Unfortunately, in our state, we don’t have a lot of mental health supports in place.”
Runnels said children often don’t know how to process trauma, so they ignore it.
“I think one of the biggest things is don’t tiptoe around it. Say the words. Say ‘suicide,’ say ‘kill,’ say ‘die,’ because when we don’t, our children learn those words are scary, and we can’t say them,” Runnels said.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or text TALK to 741-741 for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day 7 days a week.