Man displaced by Katrina held in slayings of 2 relatives — (The Houston Chronicle)

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The Houston Chronicle

By MIKE GLENN  mike.glenn@chron.com

Police: Killings may have involved talk of selling a New Orleans home

Police late Sunday were questioning a former New Orleans resident who they said acknowledged fatally shooting his sister and brother-in-law inside the southwest Houston apartment he shared with his elderly mother.

Robert Betzer, 55, was remorseful when officers arrived about 10:45 a.m. Sunday after the shooting at the Meyerland Court apartments, 9700 Glenfield, Houston police said.

“He surrendered himself to the first patrol units that arrived,” Sgt. C.T. Mosqueda, of HPD’s homicide division, said. No charges had been filed.

The victims, Patricia Lombard and her husband, John, came to Houston from Louisiana to spend the weekend with Betzer and his mother, 85, at the apartment where the two had lived since Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, police said.

The victims took Betzer’s mother to dinner Saturday night then returned Sunday to continue the visit. They were sitting in the dining room, police said, when Betzer pulled out a pistol and began firing.

“There was no fight. There was no indication (of) any physical activity,” Mosqueda said.

John Lombard died at the apartment, and his wife was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said. Both are thought to have been in their 40s.

Neighbor George Patterson said he heard a commotion but thought it might be from a TV. He went outside and saw police cars and ambulances.

The motive for the slayings was unclear. Police said it may involve Betzer’s desire to return to Louisiana, although other relatives said he should stay in Houston with his mother. “It appears that (he) wanted to go home,” Mosqueda said. “For unknown reasons, he lost it.”

Also, police said there had been discussions about possibly selling the family’s home, which was heavily damaged in flooding caused by Katrina.

Betzer “didn’t want to be left homeless,” Mosqueda said.

Betzer’s mother was in the apartment but was not injured in the shooting. She is in the care of other relatives in the Houston area, police said.

“She’s doing fine, as well as can be expected,” Mosqueda said.

Betzer, who used a cane to walk, offered no resistance as officers led him to a patrol car. A plastic bag containing his medication, including pills for depression, was taken from the apartment, police said.

Patterson said Betzer seemed “very caring, very loving.”

“It’s almost mind-boggling to think that he was capable of doing something like this,” Patterson said.

mike.glenn@chron.com

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle