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Houston taqueria customer shoots robber: Grand jury to determine whether gunman to be charged in Eric Washington’s death

Houston taqueria customer shoots robber: Grand jury to determine whether gunman to be charged in Eric Washington’s death

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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — A grand jury will decide whether an armed taqueria customer who shot and killed a shoplifter last week in southwest Houston and is now being hailed a hero will face criminal charges.

Investigators said the 46-year-old customer, who police have not identified because he is not in custody, turned himself in and is cooperating with detectives.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Houston robbery shooting: Customer shoots, kills robber armed with plastic gun, police say

The 46-year-old’s lawyer sent the following statement to Eyewitness News:

“My client, who wishes to remain anonymous, was having dinner with a friend at El Ranchito Taqueria and as seen in the video, a robbery suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a gun at my client and the other customers demanding money. fearing for his life and the life of his friend my client acted to protect everyone in the restaurant.

In Texas, shooting is justified in self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property. The client met with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and HPD homicide investigators. He fully intends to continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

When the investigation is complete, this case will be presented to a grand jury. We are confident that the Grand Jury will conclude that the shooting was justified under Texas law. This event is very traumatic, the taking of a human life is something he does not take lightly and will weigh on him for the rest of his life. For this reason, he wishes to remain anonymous. Due to the tremendous coverage, we ask the media and the public to respect his privacy.”

University of Houston Law Center Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson said even if he is charged, a jury likely won’t convict.

“When a person uses force during an armed robbery, they have a very heightened protection under the law,” Thompson explained. “I know there’s a lot of questions about the use of a weapon because it’s not a real firearm, but that really doesn’t matter because it was used as a firearm and one would reasonably believe they were facing an immediate threat of deadly force.” “

The suspect can be seen on video taking control of the taqueria and pointing what appears to be a gun at customers.

Suddenly, a customer starts shooting, even getting close to the suspect as he continues to shoot.

He puts what appears to be the customers’ stolen money back on the table, then seems to realize that the suspect’s gun isn’t real.

The customers, including the gunman, left, while the owner and workers remained in the store.

On Monday, the medical examiner identified Eric Eugene Washington, 30, as the robbery suspect who was killed.

Records show Washington had an extensive criminal history and was out on bail at the time of the would-be robbery.

In 2015, Washington was convicted of a lesser charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with the death of 62-year-old Hamid Varaj, a cellphone store owner, the documents show. Houston police also charged two other men.

According to records, Washington was released on parole in 2021 and charged with assaulting his girlfriend in December 2022.

Waraich had a fiancee and three sons who reacted strongly when contacted by ABC13.

“If the person who killed Eric had been around 10 years ago, maybe I would still have my father,” said Aman Varaj, the son of the store clerk who was killed.

“Eric was an evil criminal who took pleasure in harassing and robbing innocent families. The guy at the taqueria is a real hero!” Sean Waraich, the victim’s other son, added. “He did the right thing by stopping the thief and protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator.”

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