Houston, TX – The taqueria customer who fatally shot an armed robber during a holdup inside the restaurant last week has turned himself in to police and will face a grand jury.
“After consulting with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, it was determined the shooting will be referred to a grand jury,” the HPD said. “Since the male is not arrested or charged, his identity is not being released.”
The customer’s attorney released a statement saying that his client was enjoying a meal at El Ranchito Taqueria when the gunman barged in and pointed at gun at him and other customers while demanding money, KTRK reported.
“In fear of his life and his friend’s life my client acted to protect everyone in the restaurant,” the attorney said. “In Texas, a shooting is justified in self-defense, defense of others and in defense of property.”
He noted that his client has met with prosecutors and HPD homicide detectives, and said he “fully intends to continue cooperating with the ongoing investigation,” KTRK reported.
“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,” the attorney said. “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.”
UPDATE: Surveillance photos of the male (and his vehicle) wanted for questioning in this fatal shooting of a robbery suspect last night (Jan. 5).
Know the man's ID? Call HPD Homicide 713-308-3600. He is not charged at this time.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 6, 2023
The harrowing encounter occurred at a taqueria located on South Gessner near Bellaire Boulevard shortly before 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, KUSA reported.
Security footage showed a handful of customers sitting at various tables throughout the dining area when a black male wearing all black clothing, black gloves, and a black ski mask barged into the building and began pointing a gun at everyone.
“Witnesses told officers the suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a pistol at patrons as he demanded their money,” the HPD said in a press release.
Some customers dove beneath their tables and others ducked down in their seats as the gunman went to each person and aimed his gun at them, the video showed.
He gathered up their belongings and was making his way over towards a customer in the corner near the door when one of the patrons he passed by suddenly drew out his own firearm and fatally shot the unsuspecting robber from behind, the video showed.
“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,” the HPD confirmed in the press release.
The armed customer then “collected the stolen money from the suspect and returned the money to other patrons” before he and the other victims left the premises, according to police.
Investigators determined the firearm the robbery suspect was carrying was a replica, KUSA reported.
The HPD has identified him as 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington.
Washington had an extensive criminal history and was out on bond on new charges when he committed the robbery at the taqueria, KTRK reported.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2015 in connection with the shooting death of 62-year-old cell phone store owner Hamid Waraich, according to the news outlet.
Washington was convicted of a lesser charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in that case.
He was released onto parole in 2021, but was arrested yet again in December of 2022 for assaulting his girlfriend, KTRK reported.
Washington was subsequently released from jail on a personal recognizance bond, according to the New York Post.
Sean Waraich, one of Hamid Waraich’s three sons, said he and his family believe the man who fatally shot their father’s killer is a hero, KTRK reported.
“Eric was an evil criminal that took joy in harassing and robbing innocent families. The individual at the taqueria is a true hero!” he said. “He did the right thing in stopping the robber and in protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator.”