A woman and man died in a shocking murder-suicide that occurred inside of a hotel lobby in downtown Houston, Texas last week, police say.
According to the Houston Police Department, 27-year-old Jenna Soderberg was shot and was killed by her longtime boyfriend, 39-year-old Sherrick Byrd at the Marriott Marquis on Sept. 7. The shooter then turned the gun on himself and took his own life.
Byrd is from the Dallas/Fort Worth area; Soderberg hails from Massachusetts but previously lived in Atlanta, Ga. and Austin, Texas.
Witnesses told responding officers they saw the couple arrive right before the shooting and that they heard the gunshots soon after the pair got to the hotel. according to local ABC affiliate KTRK.
“We do not think this is a random event or incident,” HPD Chief Troy Finner said at a press conference immediately after the shooting on Tuesday afternoon. “We do believe–and we have reason to believe that there’s some type of relationship. The investigation is going to determine exactly what relationship it is. But, as I always say, this is tragic. We’ve got, apparently, two families affected here. It is a murder-suicide. The gentleman did come in at some point, shot the female, and then immediately shot himself.”
Finner added that completing the investigation quickly was a top priority for police because the hotel still needs to make money.
“I want to pray for the victims, but also it’s on us as a police department, as the City of Houston and as businesses to get it back up and running,” he said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “Doing an investigation– doing a complete investigation–getting this business up and running. They are still accepting guests.”
Police say the couple arrived at the hotel with suitcases in their hands and engaged in a conversation that suggested familiarity just before the shots were fired. Authorities believe Soderberg and Byrd had planned to check into the popular lodging establishment.
The couple arrived in separate cars and began to argue once they met up in the hotel’s lobby, police said. Moments later, two shots rang out and witnesses scrambled to exit the hotel.
“Jenna Nicole Soderberg was tragically murdered by her estranged boyfriend on September 7th in Houston Texas,” her brother, Chris Soderberg, wrote in a GoFundMe to raise money for the deceased woman’s body to be returned to Northampton, Mass. “Her big heart thought she could save him, but instead it ended with him taking her life followed by his own. Our family is shattered by this tragedy and are in need of help bringing her and her belongings home. Any form of donation will go a long way covering cremation, transportation, and other funeral related costs. We are beyond thankful for everyone that has reached out and showed their remorse through these tough times. Services and other dates will be posted as soon as they are determined. Thank you.”
According to court records obtained by local CBS affiliate KHOU, violence was nothing new to their years-long relationship.
In the summer of 2019, while living in Austin, Texas, Soderberg accused Byrd of assaulting her outside of a Burger King. She filed a request for a protective order one week after that initial police report was filed–which also documented another alleged attack from 2018.
“I want this protective order because I am afraid for my safety when Sherrick is around,” Soderberg alleged. “Sherrick currently has a pending felony aggravated assault charge in Travis County that I am the listed victim of and I am afraid that Sherrick will retaliate against me because of this. The incident on July 4, 2019 showed me that Sherrick is erratic and aggressive and I am afraid of future violence. I am scared of what could happen if Sherrick is allowed to be around me and I want this protective order to keep me safe.”
Byrd, however, couldn’t be located and the order was dismissed.
Court documents obtained by KTRK allege that officers arrived at Soderberg’s neighbor’s apartment in June 2018 to find the brutalized woman with both eyes swollen shut, blood pouring from a deep gash on her head and her body covered in bruises. Byrd ultimately spent 112 days in jail for that attack.
The anonymous neighbor recounted the way she felt after that domestic violence incident that happened over three years ago.
“He meant to kill her that day,” she told the outlet. “I was just in shock. I didn’t say anything. She was just like, ‘Should I call the police?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact. I’m going to call the police for you.’ The last facial memory that I have is her in the hospital, bruised up with two black eyes. I feel like it’s not real. She was a really friendly person…outgoing. She loved smiling. She loved being happy.”
[image of Soderberg via GoFundMe; Byrd via Travis County]
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