By JAKE BLEIBERG
A 17-year-old has been charged with kidnapping two migrants whose rescue this week from a Houston hotel by FBI agents after days of captivity ended in gunfire that killed another suspect.
Josiah Jackson was charged Friday with two counts of aggravated kidnapping in the abduction of a man and woman and the attempt to ransom them, Harris County court records show. The case filings do not list an attorney for Jackson, who is being held in a county jail ahead of a bond hearing.
The migrants were stopped on a highway northwest of Houston on Saturday and were forced into another vehicle by the kidnappers, according to a prosecutor. Officials have said little about what happened between then and Thursday morning, when the FBI says its agents rescued two migrants following the shooting in north Houston.
The FBI and various local law enforcement agencies offered little additional information Friday and the terse court records didn’t reveal much more.
Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, said the suspected kidnappers fled as agents moved in. Gilliland said that “within a few minutes” deputies with a dog tracked down one of the suspects, who he declined to name, took him back to the scene and turned him over to the FBI. Jackson and “his deceased co-actor held two people for ransom, requiring (sheriff’s deputies) and the FBI to raid the location and rescue” them, prosecutors wrote in request that bail be set at $100,000. A prosecutor had previously said three migrants were kidnapped, but authorities have not said what happened to the possible third victim.
A person familiar with the matter previously told The Associated Press that the kidnappers demanded money from the family of at least one of the migrants and were paid, but then they asked for more. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly, also said the kidnappers at one point sent the family a video showing them beating a man.
On the other side of Texas, two migrants were found dead Friday and at least 10 were hospitalized after police received a call that they were “suffocating” in a freight train car traveling near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Uvalde Police Department said Border Patrol was informed of the phone call and able to stop the train. About 15 migrants were found inside, according to a statement from the department. The condition of all of those hospitalized was not immediately known. University Health in San Antonio tweeted that it had received two male patients, one in critical condition and one in serious condition.
Bleiberg reported from Dallas.