Normally, Oak Forest resident Jeremy Goodwin’s path on the White Oak Bayou Bike Trail takes him north toward Little York Road; but the winds of fate – and nature – combined to create a harrowing situation last week.
“It was just this one day the wind was blowing from the south, so I was heading into the wind on the way out, and it was an easier ride back [to go north],” he said thinking back to a Nov. 20 incident which resulted in him being held at gunpoint.
As Goodwin goes on his way, he said he normally hits the trail’s slopes at a high speed, but as he came down on this day (around 4 p.m.), he saw a red ATV with two men inside come down the other side of the pathway from the north side of the bridge around T.C. Jester and West Tidwell. Even stranger, it stopped at a slight angle on his side of the pathway – tipping him off immediately that something was about to go wrong.
“I knew from my neighborhood groups that people had previously been knocked off their bikes, so I had some little inclination something was going on, and I stopped to see what they were going to do with the vehicle,” he said.
According to Goodwin (and confirmed by the police report), one of the suspects stepped off the vehicle and advanced on him, waving a gun in his face and ordering him off the bike.
“It was a gun-in-your-face, give-me-your-money type situation, but it’s not my first time facing down a gun,” Goodwin said. “When I said I didn’t have any money because I was on my bike, he told me ‘then give me everything you’ve got! And your phone.’ So, he took it, slapped down my pockets and then ran and picked up my bike. I was a bit puzzled by the whole thing.”
The two suspects then took off southbound on the path, Goodwin said, the ATV following the stolen bike out of sight. However, just a short time later – no more than 15-20 minutes after filing a report, according to Goodwin – police came back with a positive identification and location for the ATV and the suspects on nearby Mansfield Street, where Goodwin proceeded to identifiy the suspects.
A brief search of bayou banks eventually turned up his ride, apparently discarded by the suspects after leaving the initial scene. And while he had not experienced any local incidents outside of those described by neighborhood groups, Goodwin feels last week may not have been the suspects’ first rodeo.
“These guys knew what they were doing,” he said. “Being under the bridge means very little visibility in both directions from the bike trail and absolutely none from the road. They had a planned route of escape and a deliberate plan of ditching the stuff and coming back for it later.”
That sentiment appears to track with a theme in the area, as a commenter on the Oak Forest Homeowner’s Association Facebook page responded to Goodwin’s post with his own story of nearly becoming a victim near 43rd and T.C. Jester – though there is little to currently suggest the individual incidents are connected.
Ultimately, Goodwin knows things could have developed in a more harrowing manner than simply losing his bike and phone, and praised the HPD’s quick response to the incident.
“[A family right behind me on the trail] had three phones and three bikes and money on them. Things could have gotten a whole lot worse. They had a grandchild, mother and grandmother,” he said. “I came away with all of my body parts, and that’s not always the case [in these situations].”
According to an HPD spokesperson, the suspects, both teenagers, have been charged with aggravated robbery and referred to the Harris County Juvenile Probation Authority. As both suspects were juveniles, photos and names could not be released, though they did confirm that one was 14 and the other 15 years old.