A disgruntled lawyer who had numerous weapons randomly shot at drivers in a Houston neighborhood Monday morning, hitting six people, one critically, before he was shot and killed by police, authorities said. Another three people had injuries from glass or debris.
Houston media outlets identified the shooter as Nathan Desai, an attorney, based on neighbors and registration of the car police connected to the shooting. The University of Tulsa confirmed Desai graduated from TU's school of law in 1998.
According to the Texas Bar Association, DeSai practiced business, criminal and family law. He had no public disciplinary history in Texas and was also licensed to practice in Oklahoma, according to the Texas Bar Association.
The wife of one of the shooting victims, Jennifer Molleda, said she believes the gunman was “aiming to kill.”
The first report of the shootings came in at about 6:30 a.m., Police Chief Martha Montalvo said at a news conference, and the suspect began firing at officers when they arrived. Montalvo did not identify the man; Mayor Sylvester Turner told KTRK-TV that the lawyer was “disgruntled” and was “either fired or had a bad relationship with this law firm.”
Numerous weapons were found at the scene, a bomb-squad robot examined a Porsche that’s believed to be the shooter’s and bomb squad officers also were scouring the suspect’s residence, Montalvo said.
The entrance to the condo complex, which is near the affluent enclave of West University Place, was still blocked off with police tape late Monday morning. Several cars with bullet holes and shattered windows were at a nearby strip mall.
Molleda and her husband live in the same condo complex as the shooter. Though she heard gunshots about 6:12 a.m. and called 911, her husband left for work. The 45-year-old called him not long after, and he told her “I’m hit, I’m hit.”
After the shooting stopped at 7:15 a.m., Molleda found her husband, 49-year-old Alan Wakim, several blocks away in the parking lot of a nearby strip mall. His Mustang had two shots that went through the windshield, and he told her that he saw a red laser beam before the shots were fired. He was taken to a hospital to be treated.
“He got out of his car, we hugged, we cried,” Molleda said.
Molleda said she didn’t know the suspect very well, and described him as quiet. “He’s a normal, average Joe,” she said.
Jason Delgado, the property manager of The Oaks at West University condo complex, confirmed that police are going through a residence. He also said that there were two recent incidents involving the suspect.
In August, Delgado said, police were called after roofers working in the complex said he pointed an assault-style rifle at them. He says there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with charges because the suspect contended he didn’t point the gun at roofers. Molleda mentioned the same incident.
And last week, the man became upset because of water pressure problems at his home, asked for maintenance help and expressed his displeasure in an email to the management firm that implied he’d “intimidate his way to getting what he was asking for,” Delgado said.
Molleda told KHOU she was aware of the alleged confrontation with the roofers, but “what set him off at 6:12 this morning, I don’t know.”
“What personal problems he has going on in his life, who knows,” she said.
Another witness, 30-year-old Antwon Wilson, inadvertently drove into the shooting scene after dropping off his girlfriend at work and could “literally hear the gunfire flying.” He managed to flee and escape injury.
Lee Williams left his home in the neighborhood upon hearing gunshots and began directing traffic away from the condo complex, noting that people usually cut through the area to avoid some busier intersections. One car ignored him, he said, and was immediately shot at. Williams couldn’t see the gunman because it was dark, but believed he saw the muzzle flashes.
“Whatever cars were going by, he was shooting at them,” the 55-year-old said, noting he heard at least 50 gunshots over 40 or so minutes. As he was being interviewed, neighbors came by and patted him on the back, thanking him for keeping people safe.
Williams took video of the incident and shared it with KHOU. Repeated, loud gunshots can be heard as a man says, “Hey, get going, they’re shooting! Go, go, go!”
Of the nine people hurt, Houston Fire Department spokesman Ruy Lozano said six were shot and three had minor injuries related to glass. Montalvo said one person was hospitalized in critical condition and another in serious condition.