A Texas grand jury will determine whether an armed diner who shot and killed a robbery suspect at a Houston Mexican restaurant last week – and returned stolen cash to other patrons – will ultimately face criminal charges over the deadly gunfire captured on surveillance footage.
In an update Monday, the Houston Police Department said the 46-year-old male shooter – whose name is not being released because he is not arrested or charged – was questioned by homicide detectives. He was initially wanted for questioning after fleeing the scene with other patrons after the deadly gunfire.
"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 robbery suspect killed was identified as 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington.
At the time of his death, Washington had a prior conviction for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, FOX 26 Houston reported. Records also show Washington had a further criminal history and was out on bond at the time of the shooting, KTRK-TV reported.
The 46-year-old shooter’s attorney 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 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 attorney added. "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."
"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."
Houston officers were dispatched to a shooting call at the "The Rachito #4," a taqueria restaurant located on South Gessner Road, at about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday and saw an unknown Black man in all black clothing, a black ski mask and black gloves who had been shot multiple times inside the business, police said. Paramedics pronounced that the man, later identified as Washington, was deceased.
Witnesses told officers that the suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a pistol at patrons as he demanded their money. As the suspect collected money from patrons, one of them pulled out a gun of his own and shot the suspect multiple times, police said. The shooter collected the stolen money from the suspect and returned it to other patrons. He and other occupants then left the scene.