Police: Man with axe attacks family in Humble grocery store parking lot

Father says he had to use shopping cart to protect his family


HUMBLE, Texas – An Humble man said he had to fight off a man who tried to attack him and his family with an axe in a grocery store parking lot.

Cornelius Wortham's trip to the Kroger in the 19600 block of the Eastex Freeway near F.M. 1960 about 11 p.m. on Feb. 21 started innocently enough. But he said soon he and his family were facing the wrath of a stranger. Humble police said Billy Quitano was swinging an axe at the family, determined to hit his target.

Wortham said he was trying to back out of a parking spot with his fiancé and 6-month-old son in the car when Quitano started hitting his car windows and yelling.

"The man just walked by the car looking crazy and just going off," said Wortham.

Wortham got out of his car, in hopes of reasoning with Quitano, but Wortham said it just got worse when he saw Quitano reach in his pants for a weapon. Wortham said Quitano pulled out an axe and started swinging it at him, with his family a few feet away.

Wortham said he lifted a shopping basket and used it as a shield from the axe blows. Then, Wortham said he grabbed a sale sign from outside the shop doors and hit Quitano over the head with enough force to send him running inside the store.

"I was just trying to get him away from my family," said Wortham. "I ran behind him and the people in the store are like, 'What's going on? What's going on? I'm like, 'Call the police, call the police.'"

Police said they searched the store and caught Quitano near an employee bathroom. Investigators said officers found the axe ditched in a store trashcan. Quitano was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Court records show Quitano faced the same charge five years earlier for a different alleged assault.

Police said the reason for Quitano's rage toward Wortham and his family remains a mystery.

"I just thank the Lord that we are all alright," said Wortham.