HOUSTON, TX – The fallout from an incident last week where an armed patron of a Texas restaurant shot a violent career criminal who was in the process of robbing the establishment at gunpoint continues, with many members of the community calling him a “hero” while others call for his arrest.
The incident in question took place last Thursday just before 11:30 p.m. at Ranchito Taqueria in Houston; at that time, Eric Eugene Washington, 30, entered the eatery wearing a mask and carrying a realistic-looking plastic firearm – believed by authorities to have been either a BB gun or airsoft pistol – and robbed the customer and staff, taking cash while threatening to shoot them.
After collecting the ill-gotten gains, Washington – as seen on the restaurant’s surveillance video (NOTE: linked video is one of the few uncensored depictions of the incident) – appeared to be making his way to the front door while still waving the gun around. It was at this time that an armed diner ambushed the crook, shooting him four times as he passed by his table.
As Washington falls to the ground, the man can be seen standing up, going over to the downed robber, and pumping ta total of five more shots into his prone form, for a total of nine shots.
After retrieving the Washington’s firearm and seemingly realizing that it was fake, the armed patron appears to throw it against the wall in anger; he then distributes the stolen money back to his fellow victims and is then seen leaving the scene in an old pickup truck before authorities could arrive.
Washington was pronounced dead at the scene. It was later revealed that he had an extensive criminal history, having served six years in prison for his involvement in a violent armed robbery; after getting out of prison, he was again arrested for alleged domestic abuse of his common-law wife.
Members of the community hailed the shooter as a hero, and although Houston stated that he was currently not a suspect in any crime and was not facing charges, they asked the unidentified man to come forward for questioning.
The shooter later did just that, reaching out to police via his lawyer and is currently said to be cooperating with authorities, who have not released the 46-year-old man’s identity; it will reportedly be up to a grand just to decide if he will ultimately face any charges, but legal experts who specialize in self-defense say that, under Texas law, it is highly unlikely he will be face any legal recriminations.
The shooter issued a statement via his lawyer, Juan L. Guerra Jr., saying that he wishes to remain anonymous and that he took no pleasure in ending Washington’s life; he also stated that he felt the shooting was justified, a conclusion that he believes the grand jury will reach as well.
Below is the full content of the statement:
“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, pointed a weapon at my client and the other customers demanding money. 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.
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.”
Despite being lauded for having “protected” the patrons of the restaurant from a dangerous felon, some members of the Houston community are calling for the shooter’s arrest, saying he went too far.
Local activist Quanell X said at a news conference this week that while he condemned Washington’s robbery of the business and even understood the initial four shots that stopped him, he felt that the unidentified shooter lost the moral high ground by continuing to shoot him while he was down.
“He was within the law when he fired the first initial shots. But we believe he went from being a law-abiding citizen to a lawbreaker,” he said. “I’m hoping the grand jury does something because if they don’t, the message that will be sent will be the wild wild west.”
Washington’s mother, Corine Goodman, echoed X’s sentiment regarding her son’s death.
“If you had to kill him, I can deal with that. I can come to grips with that. He did something wrong, I understand that,” she said. “But for him to be shot four times in the back leaving and when he falls down and he shoots him four more times. He abused him.”