A customer at Ranchito Taqueria in Houston, Texas shot and killed a man who attempted to rob the restaurant while brandishing a weapon, the Houston Police Department says.
Police said that an armed man in a mask entered the restaurant “demanding money and wallets from customers,” KHOU 11 News Houston reports.
As he attempted to make an escape, one of the customers shot the would-be robber, killing him.
KHOU 11 posted surveillance footage of the incident to Twitter:
CAUGHT ON VIDEO: A customer at a taqueria shot and killed a robber at the restaurant on S. Gessner in southwest Houston, police said.
Read: https://t.co/3M4zQSUx2G pic.twitter.com/XQH8r8yHus
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) January 6, 2023
No one else in the restaurant was injured, and investigators said the suspect’s “firearm” turned out to be a plastic pistol.
Houston Police Lieutenant Wilkens told KHOU 11 that the suspect had a “plastic pistol, possibly an aero soft or possibly a little BB pistol.”
In light of the news that the assailant – now identified as 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington – did not wield a real gun, some have questioned whether the shooting was justified.
Nathan Beedle with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office pointed to specific statutes to argue that the shooting was indeed justified under state law.
“I can point you exactly where it is in the law, 9.31 and 9.32 of the penal code,” Beedle said. “Whether someone uses deadly force in the situation, that is presumed to be correct under Texas law.”
Deadly force is “presumed justified” under Texas law in specific instances pertaining to robbery and aggravated robbery, per KHOU.
However, Houston police have now questioned the man involved, and the shooting will now be referred to a grand jury, Fox News says.
The name of the vigilante has yet to be released, but police announced that he is 46 years old.
Fox reports that the unnamed vigilante also collected stolen money off of the suspect’s body before returning it to patrons of the restaurant.
“The armed customer, described by Houston police as a White or Hispanic male, fired at least nine shots at the suspect who dropped to the ground and died. The armed customer fired multiple shots, including one at the suspect’s head, after the suspect had dropped to the ground.
The armed customer collected the stolen money from the body of the suspect and returned it to patrons before fleeing the scene.”