Married teenage couple arrested after being caught carrying a loaded semi-automatic rifle into HISD school

Married Teenage Couple Arrested with Loaded Semi-Automatic Rifle at Houston High School

Houston law enforcement officials have arrested a teenage couple for carrying a loaded semi-automatic rifle on the school premises of César E. Chavez High School, which is part of the Houston Independent School District, on April 29. The defendants, identified as Ralphael Ortega, 19, and Valerie Rodriguez, 18, were charged with carrying a prohibited weapon to a prohibited location, which is a third-degree crime.

Their allegations were read aloud in probable cause court on April 29, and the magistrate read the details of the charges against the two. Ortega, who is a former student of the school, traveled to the campus to visit Rodriguez, who is currently enrolled and in the 11th grade. Surveillance video shows the two walking into the library, with Ortega leaving the library for a moment, leaving Rodriguez with the backpack.

When it became known that Ortega was on the grounds without permission, the couple was escorted to the principal’s office. There, the police asked to check the backpack, but the two tried to protest at first. Eventually, they would admit the gun was inside the bag. The weapon was reportedly loaded with at least 16 rounds of ammunition.

During the hearing, it was said that the two were homeless and had “moved in” together for the past seven years and were now married. The judge asked if their union was legal or common law. “Yes, Your Honor, we have a marriage license that has been signed,” Ortega said. The judge noted, for the record, that neither Ortega nor Rodriguez had any indictment, nor a criminal record, but due to the danger they posed, bail was set at a high amount.

“Given that the venue is a high school with several hundred students present at the time because this alleged offense occurred during school hours, I believe the nature of the crime requires a high bond to ensure the safety of the community,” the magistrate said. Rodriguez’s bond was set at $50,000 and later increased to $200,000. Ortega’s bond was set at $75,000.

Bond conditions were outlined to prevent further harm, including not going within 200 feet of Chavez High School, submitting random urine samples for drug and alcohol testing, not using, possessing or consuming marijuana, controlled substances or alcohol, not using or possessing firearms or lethal weapons, including knives or ammunition, respecting the curfew from 7:00 to 7:00, seven days a week, and getting a GPS tracking device.

This incident has brought significant concern to the Houston Independent School District community. The Houston law enforcement officials are investigating the matter further for the safety and security of the students and faculty members of the school.

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