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Grand jury to decide vigilante’s fate in fatal Texas taqueria robbery shooting

Houston Police Department

(HOUSTON) -- The customer who fatally shot a masked robber inside a Houston taqueria and returned the stolen money to terrified diners is now the subject of a grand jury probe after he came forward for questioning, police said Monday.

Graphic security video from The Ranchito #4 taqueria in southwest Houston captured the customer pulling a pistol and turning the tables on the bandit as he circled the restaurant demanding customers to fork over their wallets while threatening them with what appeared to be a real handgun.

The footage showed the defiant customer pulling his weapon and firing from his seat at a booth, where he was dining with a man, hitting the robber multiple times in the back as some of the patrons dove under tables. The assailant collapsed near the front of the restaurant before the patron who shot him got up, stood over him and fired one more time point blank, the video shows.

At least nine gunshots could be heard on the video. No one else was injured in the incident.

The 46-year-old customer was questioned by Houston police homicide detectives on Monday, the Houston Police Department said in a statement.

"After consulting with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, it was determined the shooting will be referred to a grand jury," the statement reads. "Since the male is not arrested or charged, his identity is not being released."

The alleged robber who was killed was identified by police Monday as 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington.

The shooting unfolded around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday as ten customers were dining inside the taqueria, according to the Houston Police Department.

"Witnesses told officers 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 the patrons, described as a white or Hispanic male, produced a gun of his own and shot the suspect multiple times," police said in a statement.

The gun the robber used to menace diners turned out to be a toy gun, police said. At the time of the robbery, the suspect was dressed all in black, including a black ski mask and black gloves, according to police.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, authorities said.

"The shooter collected the stolen money from the suspect and returned the money to other patrons. He and other patrons (victims) then fled the scene," police said.

The security video shows the armed customer picking up the robber's weapon and throwing it against a wall.

The customer agreed to be questioned by police after detectives seeking to identify him released a surveillance image of him and his pickup truck. Police asked other patrons who left the scene without providing officers a statement to also come forward.

 

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