The Houston Police Department is looking public assistance in locating a couple accused of randomly shooting guns out of a vehicle and near homes and posting the videos to Snapchat.
Officials positively identified and charged Michael Anthony Cuellar, 29, and Sierra Tarbutton, 27, with deadly conduct for allegedly firing the guns, but they haven’t yet been arrested.
The couple were identified after they posted the videos to Snapchat’s “Snap Map” feature, making them available for public viewing for 24 hours. With the assistance of the /r/Houston Reddit community, authorities identified Cuellar and Tarbutton and charged them in the incident.
Police are asking those with information leading to their whereabouts to call HPD at 713-884-3131 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Here’s what you need to know about Cuellar, Tarbutton and the incident:
1. The Videos Show Cuellar & Tarbutton Firing Guns in a Residential Area
Early in the morning on September 25, two people believed to be Cuellar and Tarbutton recorded themselves on Snapchat recklessly and randomly firing guns out of a moving vehicle. They appeared to be shooting in a residential area at or near homes.
In the first video, the male believed to be Cuellar can be seen shooting what appears to be a handgun out of his window on Memorial near Crossroads Drive. The second one shows the female passenger firing a different gun out of her window close to Highway 6 between Memorial and Westheimer.
The video clips were posted publicly to Snapchat and enabled to be viewed by the public.
2. A Subreddit on Reddit Assisted Police in Their Investigation
The Snapmap feature helped authorities identify Cuellar and Tarbutton, along with the help of Reddit. It started with a Reddit user, harriscores, posting the videos to the /r/Houston subreddit, and that spurred the community to investigate further. The Snap Map locations were recorded and the user notified the Houston Police Department.
“I was just browsing the SnapMap feature that lets you see all the public snaps in any location,” harriscores told The Houston Chronicle. “I work in that general area and was just seeing what was going on. They were dumb enough to post these publicly with a tagged location and general time stamp.”
“Called Harris Co. Sheriff non-emergency line, got transferred to Houston PD,” a post by harriscores to Reddit said. “He took a little bit of information then said I had to file a report in person within HPD’s jurisdiction.”
Other users who commented on the post appeared to help the Reddit investigation, and the male may have been identified through his tattoos on social media. The male’s Instagram was located first, and another user found his Facebook account. Using the man’s Facebook friends, the female in the video appeared to be identified, too. Their identifications were then turned over to authorities.
A Houston Police officer was assigned to the case and updated the Reddit community as to what’s going on with the investigation. Read his letter to the community below, according to harriscores.
Hello reddit Houston, I would like to clear a few things for you aspiring detectives and make one or two requests. Hopefully this will alleviate a few concerns.
Unfortunately discharge firearm calls that are reported happen all the time, everywhere in the city, every day. It’s an unfortunate thing but it’s reality, because of this calls where there is no suspect, no firm information on a location [I’ll get back to that] or known evidence to be retrieved, may get directed to someone who can take a report over the phone. This is primarily because of manpower issues.
The statement about a complainant really has more to do with the level of charge, for a deadly conduct charge you really need a complainant present at the location or nearby. There are charges that do not require a complainant. Also, the person giving a statement may not be up to date on all the new apps and features but we have people for that.
We are a large department, myself and several other officers from various units have been working on this since the 26th. Our first goal is the preservation of evidence which takes time depending on the person possessing that evidence and then the long process of vetting information we find or gather from out side sources begins, including driving to numerous locations and taking statements.
Now for a request, please please do not dox anyone, I’ve already received a PM about people who are definitely not the suspects in the video, I would hate for anyone, innocent or guilty to become the victim of doxxing campaign which would hamper the investigation in obvious ways.
The community has definitely come together and worked for their city which I think is a beautiful thing. My intention in writing this is not to pat myself or anyone else who I’ve worked with on the back, instead I want to give all of you a little confidence that this will be handled efficiently and by the letter of the law. Clearly I am limited in what I can say until this comes to an end and I hope you all understand that but I will do my best with what I’m allowed to do.
PS Please keep it civil should this topic pop again or I won’t be able to participate in the thread. Thanks again!
3. Cuellar is a Local Rapper & Drug Dealer
Police say that Cuellar is a known drug dealer in the area with past convictions on his criminal record. He’s also a local rapper who goes by the stage name “Money Mike.
Cuellar has many songs posted to his artist profile on Reverb Nation. In one of them titled, “Dreams and Nightmares,” gunshots can be heard in the opening few minutes followed by audio of officers executing a search warrant with police dogs and storming into a house.
“I wasn’t no good, so everybody turned their back on me,” the rapper says to open the song. “F**k school, class clown cussing out the back … kept that strap on me. I ain’t trying to be a casualty, thuggin’ on the block so the cops is constantly after me.”
NOTE: The song below contains profane language.
Cuellar’s songs also included titles such as “Lyrical Assassin,” and a majority of his other recordings talk about drugs and run ins with law enforcement officers.
4. Tarbutton Allegedly Threatened to Kill the Young Daughters of a Police Officer
Like Cuellar, Tarbutton has also had run-ins with police in the past and once told officers she knows cartel members. According to court documents obtained by The Houston Chronicle, Tarbutton has a “retaliation against a public servant” conviction on her criminal record and also threatened death upon the two daughters of an officer.
Court documents state Tarbutton told the unidentified officer about his young children: “Those are two cute little girls, those are going to be two cute little tombstones.”
Tarbutton refers to herself as the founder/CEO of Déesse Lingerie on her LinkedIn profile. It also says she’s a “published model” for commercial, print and runway.
A 2010 story on InstantNewsWestU.com said Tarbutton, who was 20-years old at the time, was arrested on oustanding warrants for “speeding and failure to appear.” She served an undisclosed amount of time in jail and was released.
5. Some of the Homes Were Recovering From Hurricane Harvey
Cuellar and Tarbutton appeared to fire at least 14 rounds in the videos, and the recordings subsequently sent the west side Houston community into panic. Many of the homeowners were already recovering from the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s a little bit scary,” resident Bill Kraft told KPRC 2 News. “You don’t know where the shots are going.”
Kraft said he heard a loud sound he assumed was a car malfunctioning, but when he heard two more rapid shots, he thought “this isn’t a car, it’s got to be something else.”
Reporters from KPRC drove around the path the vehicle appeared to take, and the crew found bullet holes on a building and shell casings on the ground. They turned over the casings to authorities to assist in their investigation of the incident.