Surveillance Footage: Armed Customer Snaps Into Action as Man Robs Restaurant Diners


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

Dumb: Bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Dumber: Bring a toy to a gunfight.

Dumberer: Using a toy to provoke a gunfight.

Yet that’s what happened just before 11:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at a Rachito Taqueria restaurant in Houston. Surveillance video from inside the restaurant showed a masked robber brandishing what appeared to be a firearm and taking wallets, cellphones and cash from customers.

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One of those customers, however, was armed, and as the robber turned from him, he drew and fired his weapon “multiple times” as the masked man appeared to be about to leave the store. (KHOU, which obtained the video from the restaurant, froze it just before the actual shots were fired.)

WARNING: Some viewers may find the content of this video disturbing.

Houston police confirmed in a tweet that the robbery suspect had been fatally shot.

No one else in the restaurant was hurt, according to police, and the robber turned out not have been armed after all.

“The robbery suspect, he came into the store, he was wearing a mask, gloves,” according to a police spokesman KHOU identified only as Lt. Wilkens. “He had a plastic pistol, either an airsoft or possibly a little BB pistol.”

KTRK-TV said police knew the identity of neither the masked robber nor the man who shot him, and that the video showed the customers fleeing the scene after the shooting. They asked that the witnesses return so that they could be interviewed.

The next morning, Houston police released photographs of the shooter and his vehicle along with a request for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating him, saying that the shooter had retrieved the stolen money from the robber and returned it to his victims before fleeing the scene.

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It was unknown whether the citizen who shot the robber was carrying a firearm legally or whether he would face criminal charges in the incident, although none had yet been filed.

Restaurant employees, who reporters described as still shaken by the event, told KHOU that the restaurant would re-open for business around 7:00 the next.

The entirety of the HPD’s statement follows:

Houston police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a male wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of a robbery suspect at 6873 South Gessner Road about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday (Jan. 5).

Surveillance photos of the male and his vehicle, a 1970s or ’80s model pickup truck with no bed, are attached to this news release. Investigators want to speak with the man for his role in the shooting. No charges have been filed.

The identity of the deceased male suspect, believed to be in his 20s, is pending verification by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Should this armed citizen face criminal charges?

HPD Homicide Division Sergeants M. Arrington, C. Duncan and Detectives S. Overstreet and L. Lovelace reported:

Officers were dispatched to a shooting call at the restaurant at the above address and observed an unknown black male in all black clothing, a black ski mask, and black gloves had been shot multiple times inside the business. Paramedics pronounced him deceased.

Witnesses told officers the suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a pistol at patrons as he demanded their money. 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.  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.

Investigators are asking the shooter and the victims who left the scene to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 to provide statements regarding the incident.

Editor’s note: Later news reports indicated the shooter, an unnamed 46-year-old, has been located and will face a Harris County grand jury for review of potential charges in the shooting.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
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Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics