HOUSTON - A road-rage incident on July 4 left a driver hospitalized with a gunshot wound after he ran into a cyclist on Houston's east side.
Police say the 26-year-old driver came upon a husband and wife out for a bicycle ride, and yelled at them that they didn't belong in the road.
After words were exchanged, the driver took off, then came back and swerved into the woman and knocked her to the ground. That's when the husband, who had a handgun, opened fire.
The incident has renewed a conversation among cyclists, over whether guns and bicycles belong together.
For most riders, cars and drivers are part of the deal and generally folks manage to get along. For some, however, ride preparation includes grabbing their gun to carry.
Retired Houston police officer Eddy Day says he's done it once for a ride.
"I've but a lot of miles on a bike, and I carried it on the White Oak bike trail because we'd had several robberies," he says.
He's not alone. On Facebook posts, a number of local cyclists say they're armed when they ride, because it's not worth the risk to be left so vulnerable without protection. Federal statistics show 34 cyclists were killed in Houston just in 2020.
The advocacy group, Bike Houston, says that 'vulnerability' is the reason for local and state leaders to secure safe spaces for cyclist travel and recreation. In a statement, Bike Houston executive director Joe Cutrufo says, "While we do not recommend people carry a weapon while riding their bikes, this incident shows that the threat of traffic violence is enough to convince some bicyclists that they must."
Until the threat from drivers or thieves becomes less of a problem, there should be little surprise that people comfortable with packing a gun say their bicycle rides will be protected too.
"If they're just realizing there's guns out there, in that environment, then they just don't understand what's really going on," says Day.
As for the driver, 26 year-old Jose Angel Hernandez remains hospitalized under guard and charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon.
Police say the cyclist who shot him had a concealed handgun license, which would be required to carry a gun when you ride, and the Harris County DA office declined to charge him.