A Texas grand jury declined to file any charges Wednesday against a man who shot and killed a robber at a restaurant in Houston last year.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office released a statement shared by Holly Hansen, a writer for The Texan News, on social media. The statement explained that a Harris County grand jury “declined to file charges” against an unidentified man who “shot and killed a robber” during an attempted robbery in southwest Houston.
“Grand jurors ‘no billed’ the shooter, who was a customer at the El Ranchito restaurant on South Gessner on Jan. 5, 2023, when 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington entered the restaurant and robbed several customers,” Ogg’s office stated. “The shooting was captured on security video.”
According to the attorney’s office, the grand jury’s “no bill” decision means that at least nine of the 12 Texas residents who were randomly selected to serve on the grand jury panel concluded probable cause did not exist in the case. As a result, the jury’s decision “effectively” clears the unidentified man of any “criminal wrongdoing.”
Houston police previously reported that the shooting incident occurred at The Ranchito #4 at roughly 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2023. Witnesses claimed that a black man with a mask and black clothing entered the restaurant with what initially seemed to be a gun, which the man pointed at multiple customers while demanding the customers give him their money.
According to ABC News, while Washington was robbing the restaurant’s customers, one of the customers shot the robber multiple times as he passed by his booth. Surveillance video of the incident shows the moment the armed customer pulled out his gun in response to the robbing incident.
ABC News reported that the armed customer fired the gun multiple times while approaching the robber and removing the man’s gun. Video footage indicated that the unidentified man fired at least nine shots.
Fox 26 Houston reported that the armed customer eventually realized that the robber’s weapon was fake, with security footage showing the customer tossing the fake gun against a wall. According to the outlet, the police said the armed customer collected the money that had been stolen by the robber and returned it to each of the individuals in the restaurant.
Washington was later found by law enforcement officers and was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. No other injuries were reported at the time of the shooting.
According to KHOU 11, Houston Police Lt. R. Wilkins claimed Washington had used “a plastic pistol possibly an aero soft or possibly a little BB pistol” during the robbery. Fox 26 Houston reported that while the owner of the restaurant, Pedro Lopez, viewed the armed customer as a “hero” for taking down the robber, some people claimed that the unidentified man should face charges for excessive use of force.
After the shooting incident, the man’s attorney provided a statement to ABC 13 Eyewitness News, expressing confidence that a Texas grand jury would determine that the shooting was justified by state law.
“In fear of his life and his friend’s life my client acted to protect everyone in the restaurant,” the attorney stated. “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.”