HOUSTON - A couple has been accused of opening fire and wounding four people — including a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl — who they mistakenly thought were trespassing on their property.
The victims, who were off-roading near a residential area about 40 miles northeast of Houston, were struck with shotgun pellets late Thursday after stopping their vehicles near the Trinity River so the children could go to the bathroom, said Liberty County Chief Deputy Ken DeFoor.
Police said resident Sheila Muhs, 45, fired once with a 12-gauge shotgun, then handed it to her husband, Gayle Muhs, also 45. DeFoor said Sheila Muhs called 911 and told the dispatcher, "They're out here tearing up the levee, so I shot them."
The Muhs have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and remained in jail Friday. The Muhs don't have an attorney yet to comment on their case, DeFoor said.
Donald Coffey Jr., the 7-year-old boy, was shot in the head and was in critical condition Friday. Patrick Cammack, a friend of the boy's father who was driving in a separate vehicle, also was shot in the head and in critical condition.
Donald Coffey Sr., 36, had a pellet wound in his right shoulder. His daughter, 5-year-old Destiny, was shot in the elbow but was in good condition.
After the shootings, Coffey's wife, who also was riding in the SUV, drove the vehicle to a nearby fire station, where the victims were taken by helicopter to a hospital. The right rear window of the SUV had been shattered, and pellet marks covered the side of the vehicle, DeFoor said.
The victims said Coffey and Cammack took a county road to a residential levee in the Westlake subdivision near the Trinity River.
According to an 11-year-old boy who was also with the off-roading group, they did not stop on the levee but by the side of the road, DeFoor said.
Shortly afterward, DeFoor said, the shots were fired from about 40 yards away. DeFoor said the victims were unarmed.
"The levee is not private property, it belongs to the subdivision," said DeFoor. "Even if they were on the levee, it's not a shootable offense. It's ludicrous to shoot someone for going to the bathroom on the side of the road."
UPDATE: Donald Coffey Jr., the 7-year-old boy, has died.