Photo: Houston Police Department
A day after a beloved cardiologist was gunned down biking to work, Houston police are struggling to hone in on a motive for a crime that shook the city’s tight-knit medical community.
Dr. Mark Hausknecht, a renowned doctor who once treated former President George H.W. Bush, was shot by a passing bicyclist in broad daylight on Main Street, according to police. The 65-year-old died Friday morning at Ben Taub Hospital.
It’s not clear whether the killing was random or targeted. But, in the 24 hours following the slaying, police tracked down at least one video clip of the suspect and are still hunting for more, hoping for tips from the public.
“This is a crime that doesn’t make sense,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Saturday. “We don’t even have a motive yet.”
The Houston Methodist doctor was on his bike near the intersection of Main and Holcombe when the gunman passed him from behind, police said. Two blocks later, the shooter turned around on his mountain bike and fired at least twice. The doctor went down immediately, and the shooter rode off northbound.
The wanted man is described by police as a clean-shaven white or Hispanic 30-year-old man wearing a gray warm-up jacket, khaki shorts, a tan baseball cap and sunglasses. He’s about 5-foot-10 with a slender build, police said.
Investigators scoured the area for video footage of the suspect, and Acevedo on Saturday said they’d tracked down some but were still in need of more.
“We’re still hopeful that the community in his neighborhood and on his path to work will all look through their home cameras and business video and review them to see if they see the doctor riding to work- and if they see anyone following him,” Acevedo said.
Investigators are hoping to piece together the doctor’s exact movements the morning of the slaying.
“The more eyes we have on video cameras,” the chief said, “the greater the chances are that we will capture additional evidence.”
Even as the police investigation unfolded, Hausknecht’s grieving widow spoke on the need for gun control legislation.
“‘Senseless’ has become a trite adjective to describe these tragedies, but what IS senseless is the misguided notion that any society with more guns is a safer society,” Dr. Georgia R. Hsieh told the Chronicle in a statement Saturday. “When students cannot go to school without fear, and teachers need to arm themselves, what has this country come to?”
His widow also wrote that the slain physician loved Houston, and she thanked the community for their support. It’s not clear if any vigils have been scheduled yet.
“So many have asked what can be done to help,” she wrote. “While law enforcement has given you their focus on finding the criminal, I am asking you to use your vote and your voice to stem the tide of this growing public health epidemic. Write, email or tweet your congressman urging sensible gun laws. We owe it to future generations to leave a safer environment.”
Hausknecht earned his degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 1980 and started practicing in Houston seven years later. He biked to work every day, and took exceptional care of himself, according to those who knew him.
In the hours after his death, he was remembered fondly by colleagues, patients and co-workers.
“We will all miss seeing Mark in the hallways and seeing patients in the cath lab and (coronary care unit), where he was known as a compassionate physician with a phenomenal bedside manner,” Methodist president Dr. Marc Boom said in statement. “Our employees who worked with him said patients were so proud to call him their doctor.”
In 2000, Hausknecht appeared at a news conference at Methodist with Bush after the 41st president was treated for an irregular heartbeat.
A spokesman for the former president offered prayer and condolence to the doctor’s family, colleagues and supporters.
“Mark was a fantastic cardiologist and a good man,” Bush said in a statement. “I will always be grateful for his exceptional, compassionate care. His family is in our prayers.”