HOUSTON – A Navy veteran sick and tired of drug dealers around his apartment complex tried to fight back. However, the dealers retaliated by putting a bounty on the vet’s life.
Tyrone McNeal is a Navy veteran who wears the word “courage” on his wristband.
“I’m not easily intimidated,” McNeal said.
Months after someone spray-painted a bounty for his death, McNeal roams Midtown on a mission.
“If they gonna label me the big snitch then I decided I was going to be the biggest snitch I can be,” McNeal said.
He lived on the street until Houston’s Homeless Coalition moved McNeal and hundreds of other homeless military veterans into Travis Street Plaza Apartments. The goal is to help them settle down, rebound and overcome any addictions.
Three years later, residents said they are surrounded by drug and prostitution. To prove it, one resident shot cell phone video of the crime.
“I call (the drug dealers) tennis shoes pimps in the streets,” Charles Lockman, who lives in the complex, said. “They ride bicycles with a backpack on. They ride around with their little clicks and they kind of watch out.”
When McNeal could take no more, he went to security over and over. Neighbors said McNeal called 911 92 times.
“I guess I became a thorn in their side,” McNeal said.
Then, spray-paint on a nearby bus stop and walls outside the complex shared McNeal’s name and apartment number and offered a $2,500 bounty for his dead body.
“For the sake of a lot of people, I just moved,” McNeal said.
Still, problems remain.
Months ago, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced aggressive enforcement on Kush drug dealers and users in six known Kush dealing hot spots. City officials claim the Main Street at Wheeler Avenue is the only one that remains.
We asked for numbers supporting that claim, but haven’t gotten them yet.
Metro Police is one of the agencies concerned. Metro Chief Vera Bumpers responded in a statement:
“While there has been no noticeable increase of Kush-related incidents on the METRO system it is important to note that we are working closely with the city to maintain a secure transit environment for all customers. METRO police are collaborating with HPD and other agencies in this effort. MPD officers use PIT (the Public Intoxication Team) and the Sobering Center when they encounter individuals who exhibit Kush-induced symptoms. One of the most identifiable areas with Kush-related activity is across the street from Wheeler Station, so we are acutely aware of, and responsive to, this situation.”
Turner told KHOU 11 News that change is coming.
“We are targeting that area and it’s my hope that over the next several weeks not months there’s going to be noticeable improvement,” Turner said.