Houston News & Search
Photo: Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle
More than anything, police need a critical tip.
In the five days since the brazen, ambush-style murder of veteran law officer Clint Greenwood, a task force of investigators, forensic experts, prosecutors, Texas Rangers, crime analysts, FBI agents and federal firearm experts have gathered to assist the Baytown Police Department.
So far, police have collected key pieces of evidence but have not identified a suspect.
They have released dark surveillance video showing the profile of the man suspected of fatally shooting Greenwood outside the Harris County courthouse annex in Baytown early Monday morning.
They have videos of the black car – believed to be a Nissan Versa Note – he drove as he left the courthouse shortly after Greenwood was hit twice with 9 mm slugs. And they are examining two spent shell casings ejected from the killer’s pistol.
But they’re hoping somebody saw something that will help them establish the suspect’s identity.
“We’d like to talk to anybody that may have seen anything that morning, between the hours of 6 and 7 a.m. Anyone who may have seen something, or heard something or knows something, ” said Baytown Police Lt. Steve Dorris. “Sometimes people think the information they have is insignificant because it’s so minor, but that same piece of information could be exactly the break we need.”
In the meantime, teams of veteran investigators from the Sheriff’s Office, Baytown police and the Texas Rangers have been questioning “persons of interest” – mostly people who may have harbored a grudge against Greenwood.
“That list is a living list,” Dorris said. “It grows, and we change it. And as we go through the course of the investigation, names come up, and as they do, we look into it.
“We’ve talked to several people since Monday morning, and the funny thing is, as you talk to people, more names come in,” he said.
A planned hit
Greenwood, 57, spent three decades as a familiar face in Harris County law enforcement circles. He started as a private attorney who often defended police officers accused of wrongdoing.
He went on in 2009 to oversee the police integrity division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, where he investigated and prosecuted law enforcement officers. In 2013, he moved to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to run internal affairs before joining the Precinct 3 Constable’s Office in January as an assistant chief deputy.
On Monday, as he arrived for work about 7 a.m. at the courthouse annex, a gunman emerged from behind a dumpster and shot him twice, once in the neck.
Who killed Clint Greenwood?
Suspect: White or Hispanic male, between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-3, and weighing between 200 and 220 pounds. He was wearing a dark-colored jacket, with a patch on one shoulder that appears to resemble a police or security firm emblem, or some other type of uniform.
Vehicle: Believed to be a Nissan Versa Note, 2013-2017 model
Where: Harris County courthouse annex, 701 Baker Rd., Baytown
When: Shooting at 7 a.m. Monday; suspect also at the scene about 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Reward: Up to $65,000 for information leading to arrest and charges
Tips: If you have information about the case, call Baytown Crimestoppers at 281-427-TIPS or Baytown police at 281-422-8371
Dorris describes the shooter as a white or Hispanic male, between 5-foot-10 and 6-foot-3, and weighing between 200 and 220 pounds. He was wearing a dark-colored jacket, with a patch on one shoulder that appears to resemble a police or security firm emblem, or some other type of uniform.
“We just don’t know what our bad guy did before he got there,” Dorris said. “Did he stop for gas, or to get a drink? We just don’t know.”
Another video shows a compact, four-door car with a hatchback – believed to be a black Nissan Versa Note – leaving the scene shortly after the shooting.
Late Thursday, Baytown police released additional surveillance video recorded the afternoon before the killing. It shows the suspect driving up to the courthouse annex in what appears to be a black Nissan Versa Note about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, then getting out to walk to the area near Greenwood’s reserved parking space.
“What we would term it is pre-operational planning, or scouting, or surveillance,” Dorris said. “This tells us there was some planning involved, and not that just that he woke up Monday morning and decided to do this.”
Investigators are confident it is the same man who returned on Monday with a gun.
“Our belief is the person we see in the video Sunday at the courthouse is the same person that we saw on video Monday morning shortly before and shortly after chief deputy Greenwood was shot,” Dorris said.
Investigators finally identified the vehicle after several days of work. To pinpoint the likely make and model, police obtained four or five models of cars that resembled the suspect vehicle on the video, and filmed them driving the same route at the courthouse, a law enforcement source said.
Experts with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also working to determine what type of pistol was used in the murder, by using the marking left by the firing pin on the spent shell casing.
Hoping for clues
For now, the task force is monitoring a steady stream of tips and working with the evidence they have.
The surveillance footage has been sent to various experts to see if it can be enhanced, and the task force is reviewing additional footage from other business locations around the courthouse.
“If they get some video that they can enhance to get a (license) plate, that would be a pretty major breakthrough,” the source said. “That would really get the ball rolling.”
FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap, with the Houston office, confirmed that agents have been assigned to the Greenwood slaying and are lending “investigative and analytical assistance” but would not provide details.
Dunlap noted the FBI provided $25,000 towards the current $65,000 reward, and is working with Clear Channel advertising to put Greenwood’s photo on digital billboards in Baytown, Pasadena and Jacinto City.
What is sorely lacking in the case, law authorities say, is the ability to go door-to-door and locate eyewitnesses. Because of the early hour of the ambush, and the location of the courthouse annex in a commercial area, few people were around.
“To me, it’s unfortunate it happened right behind a courthouse because in a neighborhood you’d have a lot of people looking outside, and here you don’t have a neighborhood to canvass,” said JoAnne Musick, an assistance Harris County district attorney who stressed she is not assigned to the Greenwood investigation.
With the right information from a tip, however, the investigation could move very quickly, police say.
“It’s something that may get solved in the next five minutes, or take five years,” one source said.
Baytown police are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call Baytown Crimestoppers at 281-427-TIPS or Baytown police at 281-422-8371.
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