Deputies called to perform a welfare check Saturday evening got no response at the door to the home when they arrived, Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesman Thomas Gilliland said. Officers then received more information that indicated a man in the home was wanted on a warrant for aggravated assault on a family member.
The sergeant on the scene called for a High Risk Operations Unit, similar to SWAT, to help make entry and investigate. While the call was being placed, deputies surrounded the home and spotted the body of a juvenile through a window.
At that point, the four deputies on scene forced their way in, and the 49-year-old male suspect inside began shooting, the sheriff's office said. Deputies pulled back and waited for the HROU to arrive.
After more than an hour the man came outside and surrendered without further incident.
The bodies of eight people were found in the home.
"At this time we have what appears to be five children and three adults," said Thomas Gilliland, spokesman for the sheriff's office. "Ages and genders we do not have, and cause of death we do not have. The medical examiner will have to determine a cause of death."
It's not yet clear what the relationship was between the suspect and the victims.
"Homicide detectives have taken over the operation along with our crime scene unit. Due to the amount of victims and the proximity to the people in the house, it'll be a scene that's going on for a while," Gilliland said.
A motive for the crime has not been determined.
Neighbors were in disbelief Sunday.
"I cannot believe it," said Adela Ramirez. "I am in horrific shock."
Family assistance counselors were helping the deputies who answered the call "decompress," Gillilland said.
"It's a hard job being a patrolman in this town, and our deputies do a yeoman's job every day," Gilliland said. He added that counseling is important "when someone so callous could do something like this to children."