Houston police: Man hired hitman to kill cop who ticketed him
He looked at murder almost as if it were the cost of doing business — and a cheaper option than the alternatives, police said.
The tickets a Houston cop kept writing Mohammed S. Mohamed, 47, were a financial drain on Mohamed’s shipping and logistics business on the east side of Houston. But fixing the violation he was repeatedly cited for (having too many vehicles on his property) would require a lot of money, too. Mohamed estimated it could run him tens of thousands of dollars, according to Houston police.
So Mohamed devised a less costly solution: Hire a hitman to kill the police officer writing the tickets, according to Houston Police Chief Chief Art Acevedo.
Unfortunately for Mohamed, the hitman he struck a deal with was an undercover cop. A Houston SWAT team took Mohamed into custody after he tried paying the supposed hitman $2,000 for what he thought was a successful hit, police said.
“If someone is willing to kill a member of the Houston Police Department because they got too many tickets … that’s a person that not only poses a serious threat to that officer, but also poses a serious threat to this community,” Acevedo said at a news conference Tuesday announcing Mohamed’s arrest.
Mohamed faces solicitation of capital murder charges, Acevedo said.
Police began investigating Mohamed in late May and early June, after a tip came in that a man was looking to employ a hitman to take out a Houston police officer. But at first, Mohamed floated the less drastic idea of maiming the officer he thought was interfering with his business, police said.
“He wanted someone to carry out an attack on the officer and disable him by throwing acid in his face,” Acevedo said.
Mohamed eventually settled on murder instead, according to police.
What Mohamed didn’t realize was that police were setting him up, and that he was hiring an undercover cop, Acevedo said. He also didn’t realize his hitman had an entire police team helping orchestrate the ruse, which made it easier to fool Mohamed into thinking the hit was actually being carried out.
When Mohamed interacted with the undercover cop, he tried to disguise himself with bandanas and hats, knowing he could be extorted by a hitman if his real identity were revealed, according to police.
Meeting under the cover of dark, Mohamed paid the person he thought was a hitman $500 before the hit, police said. After the hit, he promised to pay the hitman the remaining $1,500. One of Mohamed’s stipulations was that he didn’t want to hit to occur until after Ramadan was over, Acevedo said.
Investigators painstakingly staged the murder Mohamed commissioned, portraying the officer’s “death” as a robbery gone sideways. When Mohamed and the supposed hitman met at a park later, Mohamed found photos of the staged death convincing, police said.
The pictures didn’t make it clear how the officer had died, but they made it clear the ticketing officer was gone.
“There was a lot of blood,” Acevedo said. “It was good enough for this guy to obviously be happy that this was done.”
Police described Mohamed’s reaction to the photos as “surprised” and “kind of happy.”
Mohamed likely wasn’t happy for long. The SWAT team soon apprehended him — and discovered Mohamed had brought the remaining $1,500 with him that day as promised, according to police.
Acevedo told reporters that Mohamed, who has ties to Egypt, should be denied bail.
“He has the means to be able to leave the country,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo also said the tipsters who first learned of the plot deserve credit for coming forward to alert police.
Police said they aren’t sure exactly how much money Mohamed owed from the many tickets.
“I think that those violations will be the least of his problems,” Acevedo said.