Authorities knew of threat two weeks before Judge Kocurek’s shooting

Chimene Onyeri
Chimene Onyeri (Houston Police Department)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Search warrants unsealed recently in the case of Chimene Onyeri, a person of interest in the Nov. 6 shooting of Travis County District Judge Julie Kocurek, reveal that officials were warned two weeks prior to the shooting that Onyeri was planning to kill an unnamed Travis County judge.

In the search warrant, an Austin Police Department detective says he spoke with an investigator with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office on Nov. 9—three days after the judge’s shooting—who told him a woman called the DA’s office around two weeks before the shooting. The woman told the DA’s office she witnessed a discussion between Onyeri and another man about his plans to kill a Travis County district judge.

The investigator with the DA’s office said they were unable to verify the tip because the name of the threatened district judge was not given. The investigator also said that they were unable to find a current case within the Travis County system involving Onyeri, although Onyeri was facing probation revocation in Kocurek’s court. On the same day, the Travis County investigator said the same tipster left several voicemails saying Onyeri was now telling a man he “killed the Travis County District Judge.”

The search warrants issued out of Harris County gave authorities clearance to search two properties in Houston along with his vehicle. The items seized with the warrants include firearms, ammo, clothing, and equipment commonly used to commit credit card fraud.

In other details, the warrants say multiple witnesses in Kocurek’s Tarrrytown neighborhood reported seeing three suspicious men riding in a gray-colored sedan prior to the shooting. Onyeri was arrested on a separate case in Houston riding in the passenger seat of a gray-colored sedan.

Onyeri was arrested for a 2012 fraud case in Rollingwood. Court documents show Kocurek sentenced Onyeri to 3-years probation for the fraud, but prosecutors recently asked Onyeri be arrested for violating probation terms for a similar case out of Louisiana.

The affidavit says that Kocurek was “seriously injured” in the shooting. On Nov. 30, a family representative said there were “no new updates” in regards to Kocurek’s condition and wouldn’t say whether or not she is still hospitalized. On Monday, a family representative said they do not have a statement at this time.

Onyeri is currently in the Harris County Jail charged with murder in an unrelated Houston case that happened earlier in 2015.

Travis County District Attorney Response

On Wednesday, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said the agency’s investigators did review an “unspecified threat in mid-October but were unable to verify much of the information.” Lehmberg goes onto say the threat assessment was reviewed by their chain of command and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the threat.

“The supervisors with courthouse security dispersed the information to relevant security, including the officers assigned to the District Courts,” continued Lehmberg in an email.

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