Last week, a 30-year-old man was shot and killed while he was trying to rob customers in a Houston taqueria. Now, a Texas grand jury will decide whether the brave customer who shot the robber will face criminal charges.
On January 5, Eric Eugene Washington entered a taqueria in southwest Houston wearing a black ski mask and gloves and brandishing a fake gun, which everyone in the restaurant believed to be real at the time. He demanded that the customers hand over their money.
Many of the diners jumped to the ground, handing over their cash and other possessions.
When Washington had his back turned, one of the customers sitting at a booth pulled out his gun and shot him nine times, killing him on the spot.
The customer, who some are calling a hero, is a 46-year-old man who has not been publically identified because he is not under arrest. However, the case is still being reviewed by a grand jury.
The shooter’s attorney, Juan L. Geurra Jr., reported that his client was within his rights to shoot the robber.
“In Texas, a shooting is justified in self-defense, defense of others, and in defense of property,” Guerra said.
The attorney added that his client has struggled emotionally with the incident, saying, “This event has been very traumatic, taking a human life he does not take lightly and will burden him for the rest of his life.”
A professor at the University of Houston Law Center, Sandra Guerra Thompson, gave her opinion on the incident, given that Washington did not have a real firearm with him.
“I know that there are a lot of questions about the use of a gun because it wasn’t a real firearm, but that really doesn’t make a difference because it was used as a firearm and a person would reasonably believe that they were facing an immediate threat of deadly force,” said Thompson.
Washington already had a significant criminal history. In 2015, he was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection to the shooting death of a 52-year-old business owner.
One of the victim’s sons, Sean Waraich, spoke out after Washington was killed in another robbery attempt. He called Washington “an evil criminal that took joy from harassing and robbing innocent families.”
Waraich praised the taqueria customer who shot Washington, calling him a “true hero” and said that “he did the right thing in stopping the robber and protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator.”
Another one of the victim’s sons, Aman Waraich said, “If the guy who stopped Eric was around ten years ago, maybe I’d still have my dad.”
He served seven years of his prison sentence and was released on parole in 2021. In December he was charged with domestic violence after assaulting his common-law wife but was released on bond.