This Week's Headlines

South Belt community honors Sgt. Sean Rios

Residents upset about water bills

Daytime armed robbery at Shell

Male charged with Riverstone murder

Safety COVID tips for holidays

Abandoned house still a problem

Residents upset about water bills

City OKs computers for those in need

COVID suspends jury trials until 1-31-21

County seeks door-to-door blood tests

Ellis pushes forward on economic equity, opportunity in county

SJC receives $50K donation for student scholarships

San Jacinto College recipient of Texas Success Center Grant

Unbeaten Longhorns on brink of title, top Division 1 seeding

No storybook ending comes; JFD cross-country misses state

Dobie, Brook boys win openers on hardwood, JFD girls start strong

Lady Longhorns draw Atascocita

Longhorns stay unbeaten, routing Memorial

BAFL postseason to begin in December; Rice the goal

 

South Belt community honors Sgt. Sean Rios

The South Belt community this week served as host for the memorial services of fallen Houston Police Department Sgt. Sean Rios, who was killed during a shootout Monday, Nov. 9, while off-duty in North Houston.

While Rios was not from the immediate area, all aspects of his final arrangements, headed by Peevey Funeral Home, were centered in the South Belt community, with visitation taking place Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Sagemont Church and the funeral services taking place Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Grace Church Houston.

Rios’ family reportedly chose Peevey to arrange services because of a positive experience they previously had with owner Phillip Peevey, who then ran Niday Funeral Home. Peevey subsequently made arrangements with the local churches. Grace Church Houston has routinely served as a funeral space for fallen police officers and firefighters in recent years.

While Tuesday’s visitation was open to the public, Wednesday’s funeral service was reserved for only family, friends and fellow HPD officers, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The memorial service unofficially began the previous Thursday morning when Rios’ body was transported from the coroner’s office in Houston to Peevey Funeral Home on Beamer near Scarsdale. Approximately 100 Houston Police Department vehicles escorted Rios’ hearse, while an HPD helicopter hovered above and hundreds of South Belt residents watched and waved in support.
Tuesday’s visitation services began with another police escort, this time transporting Rios’ body two miles from Peevey Funeral Home to Sagemont Church. Upon arrival, Rios passed through an HPD wall of honor erected at the church’s main entrance.

Wednesday’s funeral service was followed by a full rendering of police honors outside the church along the Gulf Freeway.

To make the funeral service public, it was live-streamed by Grace Church Houston and KXLN-TV Univision 45.

At press time, the exact details surrounding Rios’ shooting remained unclear.

One suspect, Robert Soliz Jr., 24, is charged with murder in the 179th State District Court. A second male, described by police as a person of interest, is wanted in connection to the shooting. The second man was driving a black Chevrolet pickup truck and seen speaking with Soliz after the shooting.

According to police, the incident took place around 1:30 p.m. in the 7900 block of the North Freeway (I-45 North).

Patrol officers were dispatched to a shooting in-progress call on the northbound service road at the above address. Officers arrived and found a Kia Forte abandoned on nearby Stuebner Airline and a male, later identified as Rios, with a gunshot wound inside a nearby hotel.

Witnesses came forward and claimed that two Hispanic males had a confrontation with a male in the Kia Forte, also later identified as Rios.

Witnesses told officers the driver of the Kia and the driver of the Mercedes fired shots at each other. The witnesses claimed one of the Hispanic males fled the scene in a light blue Mercedes, while the other male fled in a black Chevrolet truck.

Rios was pronounced dead at the hotel in the 7700 block of I-45 North.

Officers canvassed the area and located the blue Mercedes and developed Soliz as their primary suspect. Soliz was taken into custody during a traffic stop the following afternoon on Tuesday, Nov. 10, and charged for his role in the shooting.

Rios’ role in the shooting, however, remains unclear.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, based on 911 calls, there was a “high probability” that Rios, who was driving his personal vehicle to his afternoon shift, had tried to intervene in a road-rage shooting involving Soliz.

Soliz’s private attorney, Paul Looney, has countered by asking that an independent investigation into the matter be conducted by either the Harris County Sheriff’s Office or the Texas Rangers.

Rios was sworn in as an HPD officer in February 1996 and assigned to the Airport Division.

Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the wanted person of interest is urged to contact the HPD Special Investigations Unit at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

Residents upset about water bills

The Leader has received several complaints in recent weeks about area residents receiving water bills that are significantly higher than normal, despite no significant rate increases.

Many local homeowners have taken to social media to share their experiences and to air their grievances.

Nextdoor app user Ashley Wilson prompted a lengthy discussion Wednesday, Nov. 11, after posting a photo of her most recent water bill for $528.62 on the social media platform.

“I’ve been in this neighborhood over a year and have never seen a water bill this high,” posted Wilson, a Clearview Village resident. “Anyone else ever go through this? And I thought $175 last month was high.”

At press time, the online thread had generated nearly 150 responses – many from other users who have experienced similar problems, while others messages offered tips and suggestions.

Dozens of Nextdoor users shared Wilson’s concerns, saying their bills have also been higher than usual in recent months, despite their usage remaining roughly constant.

“I thought it was just me,” said Nextdoor user Pam Navarre of Scarsdale. “I have been here over 40 (years). Mine was $180 last month and $258 this month.”

A similar experience was shared by Nextdoor user Isabel Banchik of Bella Vita.

“I’ve been running $275-300 per month, which I think is outrageous,” wrote Banchik.

Several of the online responders suspected Wilson – and others on the post – might have a leak somewhere in their respective water system that might account for the massive increase in costs.

“You might want to look into you may have a leak,” wrote Dawn Schlosser of Scarsdale. “Make sure that all water is turned off and check your meter. I had a toilet that constantly would run or the flap got stuck, which resolved the problem.”

This sentiment was echoed by Nextdoor user Jinny Trout of Sagemont.
“Read your meter and check with (your) bill,” Trout said. “Call the city and dispute it if the readings doesn’t look right. I had a $1,400 (bill) last Dec. It didn’t get resolved till June.”

Others online, however, said that disputing a water bill with the city can be an uphill climb. “My parents had a $14,000 bill a couple years ago,” said Amanda Fraga of Gulf Palms. “They ended up paying about $10,000 because my dad got tired of disputing it with the city. They weren’t willing to work with them.”

South Belt residents who feel their water bills are higher than normal may want to hire a plumber or call the city or their local utility district for an inspection.
Residents living within the city limits are encouraged to call 311 or visit www.publicworks.houstontx.gov.

Residents living in unincorporated parts of the county are urged to contact their local municipal utility district.

 

E-mail mynews@southbeltleader.com with news items of interest.

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