Houston taqueria robbed again, 5 days after customer shoots would-be thief dead

Jan 11, 2023 | Political News

Just five days after a patron of Houston's El Ranchito #4 taco restaurant fatally shot a man who robbed customers at gunpoint, the eatery was broken into and robbed yet again.

The latest robbery occurred around 2:30 am Tuesday. Restaurant owner Pedo Lopez told News 4 San Antonio that the thief broke his slot machines and stole $100 from them. According to Lopez, break-ins at his store aren't rare at all.

“The little we do have we take home because it's been several times they've broken in,” he said. “I feel bad. I don't know how to take care of myself or from which direction we'll be hit.”

Last Thursday around 11:30 pm, a man entered El Ranchito #4 where 10 people were eating, and began to circle the store while robbing customers of cash at gunpoint. An unidentified customer shot and killed the suspect, according to police, and then returned the money back to the customers.

Houston Police Department (HPD) stirred concern on social media when they asked Twitter users for help locating the concealed-carrying man in order to question him.

“It better only be to give that man an award,” comedian Tim Young wrote in response.

On Monday, HPD announced that the man was found, but had not been arrested or charged. Instead, the incident will be referred to a grand jury, for citizens to decide what charges, if any, he should face.

The deceased robbery suspect's weapon was later determined to be a realistic-looking air-powered pellet gun, and he was identified as 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington, according to ABC13

Washington's history of criminality and violence is extensive, with reports showing that he was out on bond for assault at the time of the attempted robbery.

In 2013, he and other co-conspirators were charged with capital murder in the death of a man who was killed during an armed robbery, reported KHOU11. In 2015, Washington was convicted on a lesser charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection to the killing of 62-year-old Hamid Waraich, a cell phone shop owner.

In 2021, Washington was released on parole, and then charged with assaulting his girlfriend in December 2022, just a month before he decided to rob the taco restaurant.

Waraich's sons praised the Good Samaritan who defended himself and other restaurant patrons from Washington.

“If the guy who stopped Eric was around 10 years ago, maybe I'd still have my dad,” Aman Waraich told ABC13.

“Eric was an evil criminal that took joy in harassing and robbing innocent families. The individual at the taqueria is a true hero!” Sean Waraich, the cell phone store's other son said. “He did the right thing in stopping the robber and in protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator.”