A suspect accused of fatally shooting a young Houston mother while she held her 1-year-old son was being held on a bond of more than $1.5 million Thursday after being taken into custody nearly two weeks after the crime, according to police.
Zacchaeus Rashad Gaston, 27, was arrested Wednesday evening in connection with the July 1 broad-daylight killing of Layla Steele, 24, and the wounding of the child, FOX 26 of Houston reported.
Gaston, described as being Steele’s estranged boyfriend and the father of the child, had previously been freed on bond seven times following prior arrests, including for violent crimes, authorities have said.
The shooting occurred on the boy’s first birthday, KPRC-TV of Houston reported. At the time, Gaston was wearing an ankle monitor following his latest release from prison, but removed the device and fled on the day of the shooting, the station reported.
After initially being tossed out of court Thursday for being disruptive, Gaston saw a judge set his bond at $1 million on the murder charge, $500,000 on the aggravated assault charge and $1,000 and $2,000 on misdemeanor charges related to the case, according to KPRC.
If he is able to make bond, Gaston will face house arrest and monitoring pending further legal action, according to KPRC.
Gaston is expected back in court Friday, with changes to his bond conditions a possibility, KPRC reported.
The suspect is charged with one count of murder and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the July 1 shooting, FOX 26 reported.
Witnesses told investigators they saw Gaston shoot Steele and the child around 10:30 a.m. outside an apartment building after an unspecified “physical altercation,” according to FOX 26.
Steele died at a hospital after the confrontation, the station reported.
The boy suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to one of his legs, the report said.
After Gaston was arrested, Houston Crime Stoppers posted on Twitter that the arrest was aided by an anonymous tip from a member of the public.
“Thank you to the tipster who did the right thing & reported to our Tip Line so this suspect could be found and taken into custody,” the organization wrote.
After recent media reports about Gaston and other defendants who have been linked to crimes after being released on bond, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vowed to make bail bond reform a higher priority for his administration.
On Thursday, Abbott thanked state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston-area Republican, after a bail reform bill was passed after receiving committee approval earlier in the week.