An armed man who shot and killed a robbery suspect at a Mexican restaurant in Houston last week may face criminal charges, as the Harris County District Attorney's Office has referred the decision to a Texas grand jury.
“After consulting with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, it was determined the shooting will be referred to a grand jury,” the department said in a statement.
The deadly gunfire, which resulted in the death of robbery suspect 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington, was caught on surveillance footage.
Washington, who was out of jail on bond from domestic violence at the time of the shooting, had previously been convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, and also had a further criminal history. According to the Daily Mail, Washington spent six years in jail for the aggravated robbery charge.
The attorney for the 46-year-old shooter released a statement to KTRK-TV on behalf of his client.
“My client, who wishes to remain anonymous, was dining with a friend at El Ranchito Taqueria and as it has been seen on video, a robbery suspect entered the restaurant, and pointed a weapon at my client and the other customers demanding money,” the attorney's statement reads. “In fear of his life and his friend's life my client acted to protect everyone in the restaurant.”
“In Texas, a shooting is justified in self-defense, defense of others and in defense of property. The customer has met with the Harris County District Attorney's Office and Investigators with HPD homicide. He fully intends to continue cooperating with the ongoing investigation,” the attorney added.
“When the investigation is complete, this case will be presented to a Grand Jury. We are confident that a Grand Jury will conclude that the shooting was justified under Texas Law. This event has been very traumatic, taking a human life is something he does not take lightly and will burden him for the rest of his life. For that reason, he wishes to remain anonymous. Due to the overwhelming coverage, we ask the media and the public to respect his privacy,” the statement concluded.
Houston police were called to the restaurant at around 11:30 pm on Thursday following reports of a shooting, where they found an unknown black man dressed head to toe in black lying on the floor with multiple gunshot wounds. The man, later identified as Washington, was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Houston Police Department (HPD) Lt. R. Willkens, the deceased suspect had what he described as a plastic pistol such as an air-soft or a BB gun.
Witnesses told police that as the suspect demanded money at gunpoint from patrons in the restaurant, one of them pulled out a gun and shot the suspect multiple times. The shooter then collected up the stolen money and returned it to the patrons, before leaving the scene with other occupants.