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Posts published in “Day: December 4, 2007

Mall Shooting claims 2 lives

GREENSPOINT– An apparently deranged gunman took the life of a store clerk, minutes before the Greenspoint Mall opened last Tuesday morning.
According to reports from the Houston Police Department, Jason Hawkins, 33, entered the mall through the Fitness Connection gym, where he had been working out, about 9:45 a.m. He accosted Joanna Gonzales, 20, who was opening the gate on her store, Body Luxuries.
Although police are not sure of Hawkins motives, is seems that he was attempting to assault and rape her, since she was found partially undressed. Mall security apparently interrupted this attack, and he talked his way into the store and took Gonzales to a back room, where he shot her in the head during the process. Shortly thereafter, he went to a counter at the front of the store, and killed himself with a single shot to the head.
When first accosted, Gonzales had been on the phone to her boss, the store manager, and her fear and statement “Don’t hurt me” alerted the manager to call the police and the woman’s family. The mall security also had called for police help by this time, and a nearby HPD SWAT team was on scene within a few minutes. However, the incident unfolded so quickly that it was too late to save Gonzales.

HPD officials described a strange series of events that Hawkins undertook that morning, starting with a fire at his place of employment, an AT&T Solutions store, and then a call to his ex-wife as the assault unfolded. During that call he expressed regret over events in his life, and the lack of support by his family. Police later said that he had been evicted from his apartment and was facing a child support case in his native Cleveland, Ohio. He had lived in Houston for over a year.
Gonzales choice as the victim of his acts was apparently random, as police have found no relationship between the two.
There is a police and sheriff’s substation in the Mall building, and they were able to respond quickly to events.
A Mall Santa Claus, Tom McKnight, was also helpful in warning other workers to leave and not go into that area of the mall as the shooting started.
Greenspoint has been working to reverse a perception that crime is prevalent in the area. The Greater Greenspoint District issued a statement after the event, pointing out that since 1991 violent crimes, such as this, have dropped 19% while the population has increased by 45%.
The Mall was closed for all of Tuesday, except anchor stores Sears, Macy’s, and Dillards, which have separate outside entrances. The rest of the mall reopened Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, HPD held a press conference, in which they played the tape recording of the conversation Hawkins left on his ex-wife’s answering machine. During that conversation, Hawkins expressed his love for his ex-wife, and said that he had done some bad things and that she should watch the news.

Wells Fargo branch sees second robbery in less than a month

For the second time in 10 days, a Wells Fargo Bank branch loctaed at has been robbed.
The first time was on Nov. 16. Special Agent Patricia Villafranca said that a suspect has been arrested for that crime.
Now FBI’s Bank Robbery Task Force is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man who robbed the branch Nov. 26 at approximately 9 a.m.
“The robber approached the bank security officer and asked for assistance. He then pulled out a small black pistol, pushed it into the officer’s side, and forced him to walk toward the teller area,” said Villafranca. “The robber kept the security officer next to him at gunpoint as he demanded money from the tellers. Once he obtained the cash, the robber forced the security officer toward the exit at gunpoint. At the exit, the officer broke away and the robber fled on foot heading south. Down the street, the robber may have entered a black Ford Expedition with beige molding around the wheels.
Villafranca said the robber is described as a black male, 30-35 years old, 5’09” to 6’00” tall, 230-250 pounds, large build, with a mustache and a dark complexion. He was wearing a blue and white jacket, dark pants, and a black baseball cap.
Crime Stoppers is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to the charging and arrest of this suspect, or any felony suspect. If you have any information regarding this case, contact Crime Stoppers Hotline at 713-222-TIPS (8477) or your local FBI office.

North Houston community mourns death of Zizelmann

NORTH HOUSTON– One of the leaders in the business community in North Houston succumbed to cancer at the age of 61. His leadership in many community activities made him an outstanding example, with many friends who mourn his passing. Just this year he was awarded the John Pinkelman Leadership Award by the NHMCCD Foundation in recognition of his contributions to the community and education in North Houston.

John Robert Zizelmann passed away on November 27, 2007 surrounded by the love of family and friends. He was born in San Antonio on June 10, 1947, moved to Houston and graduated from Westbury High in 1965. In 1970, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He was president of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and the chairman of the UT Student Government Election Commission.
In 1970, John began his career in the oil and gas industry at TRW Mission. In 1974 he was transferred to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the General Manager of TRW Mission Industria Ltda. He joined a group of former TRW managers at Galveston Houston Company in 1979 and during the next seven years served as General Manager of several GH companies. In 1987, he organized an investment group to purchase four of the GH businesses. Three of those companies comprise his current business, MATTCO Manufacturing. MATTCO is a manufacturer of pump and brake system components for oil & gas drilling rigs. One of John’s favorite activities was hosting the Annual Oilfield Charity BBQ Cook-off.
John was very active in several community organizations. He was Chairman of the North Harris Montgomery Community College District Foundation; board member of the Greater Greenspoint Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Aldine Greenspoint YMCA. He received the John Pickelman Leadership award this spring.
John spent most weekends traveling between Houston and Austin enjoying his house on Lake Travis and developing his ranch on the San Gabriel River. His greatest passion was sailing the Virgin Islands with family and friends and sharing stories at the Soggy Dollar Bar.
He is survived by his wife Nockie; daughters Tammy Ahl- gren and husband Jason and Christy Vickrey and husband’ Casey; grandchildren Jacob Colvin, Nicole Ahlgren, Avery. Vickrey, and Sean Ahlgren; mother Nell Dillon; sister Caro-lyn Crawford; brother-in-laws. Steven Sarfaty and Craig Peter-son; sister-in-law Rena Peter-son; and nephews and nieces David and Liz Peterson, Wil- liam Peterson and Judy Johnston.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 10 AM. In lieu of flowers please make donations to the North Harris Montgomery Community College District Foundation or the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA.

Aldine Ratepayers settle contested water rate

By ARLENE NICHOLS Special to the Northeast News
NORTHEAST HOUSTON–The Aldine Ratepayers Association has reached a settlement with Texas American Water (TWA) in the contested water rate case that was filed earlier this year, Rep. Kevin Bailey announced. Customers will see a reduction in rates as a result of the agreement.
“Residents in the neighborhoods served by Texas American Water will be seeing a significant reduction in their water bills after the first of the year along with refunds and improvements in customer service,” said Bailey. “The settlement agreement is a victory for our folks but it is just the first step in dealing with the arrogant attitude this company has demonstrated. My constituents have suffered from poor service and excessive rates at the hands of this company. It is my intent to file legislation to prevent companies from imposing higher rates before there is an opportunity for the new rates to be legally challenged.”
According to Bailey the base rate for water will be reduced from $30.50 to $20.00 with an additional charge of $3.33 per thousand gallons of water usage.The base rate for sewer will be reduced from $38.10 to $23.00 with an additional charge of $3.69 per thousand gallons.

The structure of the company’s rates was changed along with the reduction in base rates so that low end users will not be paying a disproportionate amount.
TWA will be refunding to their customers the difference between the new rates and the rates that are currently being charged. A refund with interest will be paid in the billing cycle on or after January 17, 2008. TWA will extend its bill due dates to allow normal payment within 21 days from the date the bill is mailed to the customer. TWA will place a text message in its standard monthly bills notifying customers in Spanish that Spanish language assistance is available at the call center and provide the phone number.
“I am thankful that the East Aldine Management District was able to hire attorney Jim Boyle to represent area residents as we went through the hearing and negotiation process,” said Bailey. “The impact of having a strong unified voice for our neighborhoods is apparent from the agreement we were able to negotiate. Fortunately the special districts that I created legislatively are providing essential services to our residents that they have lacked in the past.”
The Aldine Ratepayers Association will be holding a meeting to celebrate their victory on Dec. 5 at 7:00 p.m. The meet will be held in the Community Room of the Aldine Sheriff’s Storefront located at 5202 Aldine Mail Route.
Earlier this year a group of area residents from Greenwood Village led by Representative Kevin Bailey and community leader, Irene Garcia, successfully forced TWA , an international utility company, into a contested water rate hearing.
The water utilities for several North Houston neighborhoods, were purchased last year by one of the world’s largest energy corporations and the new owner immediately filed a rate increase. North Houston neighborhoods impacted by the settlement include Greenwood Village, Mary Francis, Kenwood, Bertrand, Aldine Meadows and Colonial Hills.