Eric Eugene Washington career criminal shot dead while holding up Houston Taco restaurant by vigilante shooter as Texas grand jury to decide whether charges will apply to shooter.
A grand jury in Texas will decide whether or not criminal charges should be brought against a customer who shot and killed a robber at a Houston taqueria restaurant 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 restaurant.
Released media reports tell of the Washington having a lengthy criminal rap sheet. At the time of his shooting death, the career criminal was on bond for domestic violence after attacking his girlfriend – and he previously spent six years in jail for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
Social media users hailed the customer at Ranchito 4 Taqueria as a hero after turning his weapon on the would-be robber – who upon having entered the local joint, pointed a fake gun at customers and demanded they hand over cash.
The 46-year-old customer, who is believed to be Hispanic, left the scene in a pickup truck, and has not yet been identified because he is not under arrest. Authorities say he is cooperating with detectives – and a Grand Jury will decide if he’ll face charges.
The customer, who is seen in the clip shooting as the robber makes for an exit towards the door, was ‘traumatized’ and ‘feared for his life’ during the ordeal, his lawyer said.
He added that killing someone ‘will burden him for the rest of his life’ – but he pulled 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.
Court documents show Washington being 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.
Washington 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. He was paroled in 2021 after serving six years.
One of the victim’s sons, Sean Waraich, called Washington ‘an evil criminal that took joy from harassing and robbing innocent families.’
Toy gun used
He called the taqueria vigilante a ‘true hero,’ and said he ‘did the right thing in stopping the robber and protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator.’
University of Houston Law Center Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson spoke to Eyewitness News about the incident and, in particular, the fake gun the criminal had in his possession.
‘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,’ she said.
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 go the money and was going to leave
‘You never really know what is going to happen.’
CAUGHT ON VIDEO: A customer at a taqueria shot and killed a robber at the restaurant on S. Gessner in southwest Houston, police said.
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) January 6, 2023
Fear of serious bodily injury or death
Experts believe that the customer will most likely not face charges – as his use of excessive, deadly force was justified considering the circumstances.
Former Houston police officer, now lawyer, Thomas Nixon said: ‘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.
‘He was reasonably in fear of serious bodily injury or death.’
Nathan Beedle, with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, believes the shooting was justified, adding: ‘I can point you exactly where it is in the law, 9.31 and 9.32 of the penal code.
‘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. 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.
This does not include people who have any prior felony convictions.
Since September 2021, Texans do not need a permit to open carry a handgun in the state.