This news segment for Houston's KPRC-TV captures a press conference with Mayor Louie Welch on June 27, 1968. Welch evaluates the effectiveness of certain gun regulations following the death of two police officers. The Associated Press reports that on June 26, Roderick Isaacks shot Officer Ben Gerhart to death after the officer stopped Isaacks' car at a West Loop overpass in northwest Houston. A police chase ensued, ending when Isaacks' car crashed into another vehicle. To avoid the collision, Officer Bobby James swerved his patrol car into a culvert, fatally injuring himself. Isaacks jumped from the wreckage and ran into a field. He was killed in the subsequent gun battle with police. The event came just three weeks after the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, further intensifying the national debate surrounding gun control legislation.
Politician Louie Welch was born in Lockney, Texas on December 9, 1918. He received a degree in history from Abilene Christian College, now Abilene Christian University.
Welch began his political career in 1950, serving four terms on the Houston City Council. He unsuccessfully sought the Houston mayoral office three times before being elected to the position in 1963. Houston grew immensely during Welch's five terms as mayor, from the population topping one million people to the opening of the Astrodome in 1965 and the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969.
His tenure, however, was not without its controversy. A 1967 conflict between police and Texas Southern University students created a rift between the local administration and many of Houston's African Americans. Welch's reputation also came under fire during his last term over his relationship with well-known crime leaders, leading to suspicions about how his second mayoral bid was financed.
In 1985, Welch ran for mayor again, campaigning in opposition to the extension of job protection rights to members of the LGBTQ community employed by the city government. He lost to incumbent Kathy Whitmore.
Welch died from lung cancer on January 27, 2008 in his Harris County residence. He was 89.