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Houston's police chief says city is experiencing 'unprecedented violence' during coronavirus pandemic

'You’ve got a powder keg out there waiting to explode,' a victim's advocate said.

HOUSTON — Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Houston is experiencing “unprecedented violence.”

Chief Acevedo partly blamed the coronavirus pandemic for pushing violent suspects over the edge, during a press conference Wednesday following a day-long murderous shooting rampage in northeast Houston.

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Three women were already shot in their home before the sun rose Wednesday morning.

“They’re very quiet. They’re humble,” said Tarnika Wiser, the victims’ family friend. “They don’t get into trouble.”

Police said Kendrick Thomas, 30, shot and killed his 7-months' pregnant ex-girlfriend at her home, then shot her sister and her mother.

“Sadly, this appears to be a case of domestic violence turned deadly,” Acevedo said.

Thomas found his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend 5 miles away hours later and shot him, too, according to police.

Thomas was eventually located by police shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday hiding in the cab of an 18-wheeler parked at an Exxon gas station truck stop along FM 1960.

“The suspect took his own life inside that vehicle,” Acevedo said.

Officials said Wednesday’s violent rampage is the latest example of a city that is becoming more violent.

“The last few months have been a time frame of just some unprecedented violence,” Acevedo said. “Put up some prayers for these evil series of events that are going on in our city.”

Crime Stoppers crime victims' advocate Andy Kahan said the atmosphere in the Houston area is changing.

“Murder has just skyrocketed,” Kahan said.

Kahan said the pandemic crisis is pushing violence to a level unseen in Houston’s recent past. He predicts it will get worse.

“I haven’t seen levels like this in quite a while,” Kahan said. “And I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Kahan and other law enforcement officials have sharply criticized Harris County’s implementation of bail reform. They said it lets violent suspects out of jail before trial, some of whom commit more crimes.

Combined with the crisis, Kahan said the stage is set for the perfect storm.

“You’ve got a powder keg out there waiting to explode,” Kahan said.

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