Police say that armed robber had 'plastic gun' as he was shot dead by customer in restaurant
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Featured Image Credit: Houston Police Department
Police have said the armed robber who was shot dead by a customer at a restaurant in Texas had a ‘plastic gun’.
Houston Police Department said the man, who has now been named as Eric Eugene Washington, pointed the ‘gun’ at customers and demanded their money, with many cowering under the tables as he collected their belongings.
After taking what he wanted, Washington headed towards the exit, at which point a customer seated in a booth near the door stood up and opened fire on the robber.
Washington was shot four times in the back until he collapsed, before the armed customer then shot him a further four times as he lay on the floor.
The customer then leant in and shot Washington one more time at point-blank range, with paramedics pronouncing him dead at the scene.
Houston police Lt. R. Willkens has now revealed that Washington’s firearm had, in fact, been a ‘plastic gun’.
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The 46-year-old customer who shot him has not been identified after being questioned by detectives, as he was neither arrested nor charged.
However, the Harris County District Attorney will refer the case to a grand jury.
In a press release, Houston police said: “Witnesses told officers the suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a pistol at patrons as he demanded their money.”
The force explained that the weapon turned out to be a toy gun.
The statement continued: “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,” officers said.
“The shooter collected the stolen money from the suspect and returned the money to other patrons. He and other patrons (victims) then fled the scene.”
Lawyer and former HPD officer Thomas Nixon argued that the customer's decision to shoot Washington was 'justified'.
He told Click2Houston: “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.”
Nixon added: “It is a justifiable homicide, but the grand jury in Harris County is going to want to know all parties involved in the homicide so that they can investigate."
But while the man seemingly acted in self-defense, KHOU's legal analyst Carmen Rae said: "One of the reasons that law enforcement is seeking out this individual is to find out whether he was in fear for his life or the lives of the people around him because that’s absolutely essential to a self-defense claim under the law.
"If you’re justified in shooting the first bullet, you’re justified in continuing to shoot until the deadly threat is no longer there."