Police have arrested two teens in a violent robbery attack that was caught on video and left a woman paralyzed with a severe spinal injury from the assault. Officers identified Joseph Harrell, 17, on surveillance footage body slamming victim Nhung Truong, 44, and stealing from her in a Feb. 13 incident in Houston, Texas. They also say that Zy’Nika Ayesha Woods, 19, was nearby in a car — assisting as the getaway driver.
“In fact, when I saw it [the video], just made me mad as hell,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a press conference on Friday announcing the arrests. “Slammed her down like she was a bag of potatoes.”
“This type of violence will not be tolerated in our city,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said.
News Briefing – Arrests in Jugging Robbery at 9800 Bellaire Blvd. https://t.co/8iyIJZRQFC
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) March 17, 2023
Police previously said Truong went on Feb. 13 to the Bank of America at 9875 Blackhawk Boulevard and withdrew a large sum of money for an upcoming trip.
“The victim then drove 24 miles to the 9800 block of Bellaire [Boulevard],” they wrote. “It is probable that the suspect(s) were watching the bank and followed the victim to her next location.”
Cops now say that Harrell and Woods were following her in a car.
Truong walked in front of a shopping center carrying an envelope containing cash, officers said.
Cops now say that’s Harrell on video in a red hood with white sleeves and black shorts. He is allegedly the person who grabbed Truong and struggled with her. The figure in the red hood picked up something, briefly fled, but immediately returned when he realized he did not have the victim’s money, police said. Truong attempted to run away, but the figure grabbed her and appeared to body slam her in a briefly edited portion of the footage.
We need your help to identify the suspect wanted for a robbery by force (jugging) at a shopping center on 2/13 at 9800 Bellaire. @CrimeStopHOU pays up to $5k for info leading to the charging and/or arrest of any felony suspect.
Story->https://t.co/eJba6a65Qx @houstonpolice pic.twitter.com/LmUSrfFOdF
— Houston Police Robbery (@hpdrobbery) March 10, 2023
Police now say Harrell ran back to the waiting vehicle and Woods drove off. Truong was unconscious for a while, having sustained serious injuries, authorities said. She reportedly said she cannot feel her left leg or walk with it.
“They don’t know when my leg can walk again,” Truong, a mother of three from Vietnam, told KHOU through her daughter in a March 10 report.
Authorities said the victim sustained cracked ribs and a spinal injury, leaving her “paralyzed from waist down,” according to court documents regarding Woods’ bond.
A GoFundMe campaign to support Truong raised $266,593 of a $120,000 goal as of Monday. She was discharged from the hospital on Friday, her daughter Linh Thuy Duong wrote in an update.
Houston police Detective Tyrus Fontenot told reporters Friday that local surveillance footage was key to solving the crime because they got the license plate number of the getaway vehicle.
Footage showed that the suspect vehicle was a blue Chevy Cobalt, according to Woods’ bond documents.
Also, Woods matched the description of the driver on video, he said. She was detained under a traffic violation, Fontenot said. Woods allegedly not only confessed but implicated Harrell as well. As part of the confession, she said that she drove Harrell while they followed the victim from the Bank of America to the shopping center, documents said. She waited while Harrell robbed the woman, drove him away after the robbery, and she took her share of the money, she allegedly admitted.
Authorities charged both teens with aggravated robbery with serious bodily injury. Harrell also faces an unrelated count of aggravated assault. Police said that Woods has no criminal history, but that Harrell’s record is mostly in the juvenile system.
Harrell faced a total bond of $240,000, Harris County records show. Woods’ bond is set at $50,000.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]