The identity of a customer who fatally shot a masked robber at a Houston taqueria and returned the stolen money to terrified diners remained a mystery on Sunday when police released a surveillance picture of him and urged him to come forward for questioning.
Graphic security video from Taqueria Ranchito #4 in Southwest Houston captured the unidentified customer pulling out a pistol, turning the tables as he circled the restaurant and asked customers to fork their wallets while he gave them what appeared to be a real pistol threatened.
Footage showed the defiant customer drawing his gun and firing from his seat at an alcove where he was dining with a man, punching the robber multiple times in the back as some of the diners ducked under tables. The attacker collapsed near the front of the restaurant before the patron who shot him got up, stood over him and fired again at point-blank range, video shows.
At least nine shots were heard on the video. No one else was injured in the incident.
The shooting happened around 11:30 p.m. Thursday when 10 customers were eating at the taqueria, according to the Houston Police Department.
“Witnesses told officers the suspect entered the restaurant and pointed a pistol at the patrons as he demanded their money. As the suspect was collecting money from the patrons, one of the patrons, described as a white or Hispanic male, pulled out a gun of his own and shot the suspect multiple times,” police said in a statement.
According to the police, the weapon with which the robber threatened the guests turned out to be a toy weapon.
“The gunman collected the stolen money from the suspect and returned the money to other guests. He and other guests (victims) then fled the scene,” police said.
Security video shows the armed customer picking up the robber’s gun and throwing it against a wall.
A surveillance image of the customer and his vehicle, a battered 1970s or 1980s pickup truck, was released by police, who said they wanted to question him and other guests who left the scene without giving officers a statement .
“Investigators want to speak to the man about his role in the shooting,” police said in a statement, adding that no charges had been filed.
police told Houston ABC station KTRK that an attorney making arrangements for the person in question has called to speak with investigators.
The identity of the dead suspect, believed to be in his 20s, has yet to be verified by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, police said.
At the time of the robbery, the suspect was dressed in all black, including a black ski mask and black gloves, according to police.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, authorities said.
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