Several people who allege they went for a ride and ended up as unwitting accomplices to a drive-by shooting led police to a suspect in the June death of a Texas City man, according to court documents released Thursday.
Rondell Smith, 24, of Hitchcock, was arrested July 3 and charged with murder in the death of Richard Steans, who was shot the morning of June 21, and died the next day in a Webster hospital, according to the Texas City Police Department.
Smith also was charged with aggravated assault in connection with the injuring of another man in the same shooting, according to police.
Texas City police received their first tips about possible suspects in the shooting June 24, according to a complaint released by the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office on Thursday.
One of Steans’ relatives contacted police and said she had learned the identities of two people driving in a pair of vehicles suspected in the drive-by shooting that left Steans fatally wounded.
Police separately received tips about the driver of a second car.
During police interviews with the suspected drivers and passengers in the cars, a tale emerged of a late-night drive in which six people became unwilling accomplices in the shooting, according to the affidavit.
The incident began with seven people gathering at an apartment complex in the 1700 block of Main Street in La Marque, and began rolling toward gunfire when a member of the group said he needed to go to Bell Drive in Texas City to collect money from his cousin, according to the complaint.
The group split into two cars and drove to that dead-end street, according to the complaint.
When the convoy arrived at the house on Bell Drive, Smith leaned out a window of one of the cars and began firing at people outside the house, according to the complaint.
All of the people police interviewed said they didn’t know Smith had planned to start shooting, according to the complaint.
One woman told investigators she had argued with Smith after the shooting, and he had threatened to kill the other people in the group if anyone “talked,” according to the complaint.
A group of officers from the Texas City Police Department, the Texas Rangers, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the FBI and constables from Galveston County Justice of Peace Precinct 4 arrested Smith on July 3.
He was held on $175,000 bond and was still in custody at the Galveston County Jail on Thursday, according to county jail documents.