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A 2-year-old boy was found dead in his family’s SUV hours after a man fatally shot his father at a Houston gas station and then stole the vehicle, police said Wednesday.
Officials have not yet determined a cause of death for the toddler, but they believe it may have been heat exhaustion, said Larry Satterwhite, assistant chief of the Houston Police Department. Authorities believe the suspect left the SUV with the child locked inside and with the engine off when temperatures reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston on Tuesday.
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A 38-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday and charged with murder and tampering with evidence.
The shooting happened during an altercation around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, and authorities did not find the boy’s body until that evening, Satterwhite said.
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Satterwhite said officers initially knew nothing about the toddler when they began investigating the shooting. It wasn’t until his mother called police at 6:36 p.m. and reported her son and husband were missing that they knew they had to look for the boy, Satterwhite said.
Police then found the missing SUV with the child in it about a mile from the shooting. They started CPR on the toddler, but he was dead, Satterwhite said.
Satterwhite said authorities wish they had known about the toddler when they first began the investigation.
“No one wishes more than I that we had had more then, that we could have found this child in time,” he said.
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Authorities had not released the suspect’s name pending formal charges in court.