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A Texas woman was shot to death last week by her allegedly abusive boyfriend in a hotel lobby before he went on to kill himself, police said.
Jenna Soderberg, 27, was shot to death at Houston’s Marriot Marquis, according to KHOU 11. Her boyfriend, 39-year-old Sherrick Byrd, then turned the gun on himself, police said. Officers arrived at the hotel at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, according to a media release obtained by Oxygen.com. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
“We do not think this is a random event,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at a press conference shortly after the shooting. “It is a murder-suicide. The gentleman did come in at some point, shot the female, and then immediately shot himself.”
Finner estimated that the murder-suicide took place only five-to-10 minutes after the pair arrived at the hotel.
“What I understand is both of them came in with suitcases,” Finner stated. “They did have some conversation, which led people to believe that they knew each other. I don’t know if they’re actual guests, but with bringing in the suitcases, I think they were probably getting ready to check in to the hotel.”
Finner said that Soderberg and Byrd came in separate cars.
“Shortly after, the witnesses reported hearing a gunshot and then saw the male suspect shoot himself,” according to the statement made available to Oxygen.com.
Officers recovered the firearm at the hotel.
Court documents show there’d been extensive claims of domestic violence made by Soderberg against Byrd in the past couple of years, according to records obtained by KHOU. In a 2019 application for a protective order, Soberberg cited an assault in a Burger King parking lot, where she apparently fled for safety in the fast-food restaurant’s bathroom.
Employees came out and threatened to call the police on Byrd.
“I want this protective order because I am afraid for my safety when Sherrick is around,” Soderberg wrote in her application. “The incident on July 4, 2019, showed me that Sherrick is erratic and aggressive, and I am afraid of future violence. I am scared of what could happen if Sherrick is allowed to be around me, and I want this protective order to keep me safe.”
However, when Byrd couldn’t be located by authorities, the order was dismissed.
In 2018, Byrd was accused of brutally beating Soderberg after officers observed the victim at her neighbor’s apartment, according to Travis County court records cited by ABC-13. Both of Soderberg’s eyes were swollen shut, and she was bleeding from a deep cut on her head, records state; she also had bruises all over her body.
“He meant to kill her that day,” the neighbor told ABC-13. “I was just in shock. I didn’t say anything. She was just like, ‘Should I call the police?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact. I’m going to call the police for you.’”
Upon arrival, officers found a large amount of blood on walls, pillows, and towels, according to Eyewitness News. Byrd was arrested that day and jailed until taking a plea deal.
Byrd served 114 days in jail after the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor. Family members claimed Soderberg was estranged from Byrd at the time of their deaths.
“Jenna Nicole Soderberg was tragically murdered by her estranged boyfriend,” a relative wrote on her GoFundMe page. “Her big heart thought she could save him, but instead, it ended with him taking her life followed by his own.”
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