Police in Houston, Texas say the vigilante diner, 46, who killed an armed robber is cooperating with law enforcement, as experts say he may not face charges
A grand jury will now decide if ‘hero’ customer, 46, who ‘protected everyone’ by shooting the robber should be charged
Robber Eric Eugene Washington, 30, was killed in a Houston restaurant by vigilante
Washington previously served 6 years of a 15 year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resulting in the death of a business owner
He Washington was shot dead as he robbed diners in a Houston restaurant on January 3, armed with a fake gun
At the time of the shooting, he was out on bond for a December domestic violence charge against his girlfriend.
A Texas grand jury will decide whether or not criminal charges should be brought against a customer who shot and killed a robber in a Houston taqueria last week.
Eric Eugene Washington, 30, died after being shot nine times – with one bullet hitting him execution-style in the head – by a vigilante customer who was said to be ‘protecting everyone’ in the Texas restaurant.
It can now be revealed that Washington had a lengthy rap sheet, that most recently included domestic violence and aggravated battery. He was also out on parole for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The customer at Ranchito 4 Taqueria has been hailed a hero after turning his weapon upon a would-be robber – who strolled into the local eatery, pointed a fake gun at customers and demanded they hand over their cash and cell phones.
The 46-year-old customer, believed to be Hispanic, left the scene in a dusty pickup truck. He has not been identified because he is not under arrest.
Authorities say he is cooperating with detectives and a grand jury will now decide if he has a case to answer.
The robber, Eric Eugene Washington, 30, died after being shot multiple times by an armed diner at a local taqueria in Houston, Texas as he was trying to rob the eatery. Washington had a lengthy rap sheet that included jail time for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Surveillance camera footage shows the customer, sitting down with his gun raised, shooting the gun waving thief, at least nine times after his robbery.
Police are speaking with the yet to be identified shooter – a grand jury will decide if he will be charged.
The customer, who is seen in the footage shooting as the robber seems to head towards the door, was ‘traumatized’ and ‘feared for his life’ during the ordeal, his lawyer said, adding that that killing someone ‘will burden [his client], for the rest of his life’ – but he did pull the trigger to ‘protect everyone in the restaurant.’
There were around 10 customers eating in the restaurant when Washington entered, wearing a black ski mask and gloves, and started to ambush and rob the diners.
Many scattered to the ground and gave over their possessions in fear of Washington – who was later revealed to be taunting the taco shop with a fake firearm.
Now, records illustrate Washington’s extensive criminal history that included a recent misdemeanor charge of domestic assault against his girlfriend, which occurred in December of 2022.
Court documents also confirmed that Washington was released on parole in 2021 for a conviction of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, for which he had been sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
The customer shot the robber after he entered Ranchito #4 Taqueria and demanded the patron’s money and cellphones at gunpoint.
Police believe that the masked robber was actually using a fake gun. He has now been identified as Eric Eugene Washington
Pedro Lopez, owner of the taqueria, said he and his employees are still in shock but he is glad that his staff and customers were unharmed in the shooting.
The speculation is whether the vigilante shooter shot in self-defense or deemed to have employed excessive force, which then decides if the shooter will be charged.
Texas laws permit the use lethal force when a person believes their life or another party’s life is in immediate danger.
The state laws goes further to outline specific instances for aggravated robbery where deadly force is completely justified. In this case, where the person he shot was in the process of committing an ‘armed’ robbery, the customer’s use of deadly force in self defense is permitted.
It is assumed he would have also reasonably been in fear of serious bodily injury or death, believing the robber had a gun.
As a defense to homicide charges in Texas, it is legal to kill someone in self defense in Texas when there is reasonably fear that one is an imminent danger or of someone else being seriously injured or killed. Else
the use of deadly force was necessary and appropriate at the time a person you used it.
Eric Washington was a career criminal who had been convicted in 2015 in connection to the murder of 52-year-old Hamid Waraich, the owner of a Boost Mobile cell phone store who was fatally shot in the back during a robbery.
Washington was paroled in 2021 after serving six years and was still on probation when he was killed.
An attorney representing the vigilante issued the following 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, and 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.’
The robber can be seen on surveillance video taking control of the taqueria and pointing a fake gun at customers as they take cash out of their wallets and place it on the tables and floor.
Suddenly, the vigilante customer started shooting until the robber falls to the ground. He retrieves the customers’ money, then proceeded to leave along with other customers at 11.30pm.
Pedro Lopez, owner of the taqueria, said he and his employees are still in shock.
He told ABC13: ‘Everyone was scared, nervous. I was too. Some customers were seated here, others were over there, he got the money and was going to leave.
‘You never really know what is going to happen.’
Some experts say the customer will most likely not face charges, believing that as his use of excessive, deadly force was justified considering the circumstances.
‘The person he shot was in the process of committing robbery and consequently his use of force in defense of himself and innocent third parties is completely justified in Texas,’ says former Houston police officer, now lawyer, Thomas Nixon – The shooter ‘was reasonably in fear of serious bodily injury or death.’
That position is reinforced by a statement credited to Nathan Beedle with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, who believes the shooting was justified. ‘I can point you exactly where it is in the law, 9.31 and 9.32 of the penal code,’ Beedle said, adding, ‘Whether someone uses deadly force in the situation, that is presumed to be correct under Texas law.’
Texas has some of the most permissive gun laws in the US. Since September 2021, Texans do not need a permit to opening carry a handgun in the state.
Residents and non-residents over the age of 21 are allowed to carry a handgun, either openly or concealed, in most places in the state, excluding persons with prior felony convictions.
In a new twist barely five days after the deadly shooting inside the southwest Houston taqueria, another mishap befell the same establishment. This time surveillance video shows it was a break-in at El Ranchito #4 on S. Gessner and Bellaire.
The restaurant owner Pedro Lopez told ABC13 that his cameras captured a man forcing his way into the taqueria on Tuesday at about 2:45 a.m., stealing money and damaging equipment.
Just five days after a deadly shooting inside a southwest Houston taqueria, surveillance video captures a break-in
Footage shows a man in a mask using what looks like a crowbar to force the door open and go inside.
“When I got here, I looked at the video and I saw the man break into the games and the register,” Lopez said.
The thief then makes his way inside, cracking open three gambling machines and stealing money. Video then shows the man make his way over to the cash register, grabbing all the bills in the till.
Lopez estimates a couple hundred dollars was stolen, but his front door was damaged again, gaming machines ruined and his register left empty.
It was last week that the glass to his taqueria’s window was shattered after a diner shot and killed a robber, later identified as Eric Eugene Washington, who was robbing patrons with a what turned out to be a toy gun.
The frustrated owner was left asking “I don’t know if it’s against me. I just don’t know.”