HOUSTON – Houston police arrested a suspect Thursday in connection with the fatal drive-by shooting of a man at a beach party in Surfside. Deandre Marquis Gray Jr., 19, is accused of murdering Derrick Milam, 26, at a beach party in Surfside on April 7, 2012.
Milam was among about 15,000 to 20,000 people who crowded into Surfside that day for the Beach Party event, which was publicized on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites and hosted by a group of Houston-area club DJs.
After dark, police said Gray opened fire into the crowd, killing Milam and injuring two Lamar High School students, ages 16 and 19.
The Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office had asked HPD for assistance in tracking the suspect down.
On Thursday night, Houston police spotted Gray walking on Hirsch Road at Tidwell. They tried to stop him, but he hopped in his car and took off with a 3-year-old relative in the backseat.
Police said the toddler wasn’t in a child seat or even wearing a seatbelt when Gray led authorities on a high-speed chase through northeast Houston while speeding and running red lights.
The chase lasted 3.9 miles before ending near a Luby’s restaurant 11700 block of the Eastex Freeway at Mt. Houston. Gray left the little girl in the car and ran into the restaurant.
Once inside, he tossed a woman’s purse containing weapons, bullets and drugs. He was apparently attempting to run through the restaurant and get out a back door, according to police.
Officers were able to catch him, and only KHOU had video after his capture.
"He put a lot of folks in danger on the freeway, having that little kiddo back there without a safety seat and going at those kind of speeds," said Lt. Jay Chase, Houston Police Department. "I mean, the same thing would have happened if he would have talked to us right then and let us put him into custody without incident. It would have gone better for everybody."
Gray was then turned over to Brazoria County deputies, who had a warrant for his arrest.
"It’s really a shame to see two mothers lose two kids around the same time. It’s sad. But you just can’t take a life and think it’s OK," Gray’s friend, Vickie McNulty, said.
Brazoria County Sheriff Charles Wagner said he was afraid it would take years to make an arrest in the Beach Party murder.
But, thanks to a Crime Stoppers tip, deputies believe they have their man.
"This man is a dangerous person," Wagner said of Gray.
In addition to the murder charge, Gray faces charges for drugs, weapons violations and child endangerment.
His bond was set at $1,000,000.
The judge set the bond high because he said he wanted to make sure Gray stays behind bars.
This is his second arrest on murder charges. He’s accused of killing another man when he was just 16, and was supposed to go to trial on that charge in July.