Community activists in Houston are calling for a restaurant patron who shot and killed a robbery suspect during a holdup to be arrested, saying he went beyond self-defense despite many calling him a hero.
Customers were eating inside a local taqueria when 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington entered and pointed a pistol at them and demanded cash. As he gathered the cash, an armed patron can be seen on surveillance video getting up from the booth he was sitting in and shooting his pistol at Washington multiple times.
"He was within the law when he fired the first initial shots," said activist Quanell X in a news conference in front of the establishment. "But we believe he went from being a law-abiding citizen to a lawbreaker."
Washington ultimately fell to the ground and died. The unidentified shooter has not been charged and has cooperated with authorities.
The man's attorney released a statement saying: "In Texas, a shooting is justified in self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property."
The armed diner has been hailed a hero by many but local activists said he went beyond self-defense when he fired several more times than needed to neutralize the threat posed by Washington, who was holding a fake gun.
"You do not go and shoot someone over and over when they are no longer a threat," said Candace Matthews of the New Black Panther Nation. "He was actually in the clear for a justified kill by shooting him like he did the first time when he was no longer a threat."
The shooter fired a total of nine shots as Washington was leaving the restaurant. Washington was shot as he was on the restaurant floor after he had been disarmed, Fox Houston reported.
"I'm hoping the grand jury does something because if they don't, the message that will be sent will be the wild wild west," Quanell X said. "He should be charged with something," saying the man left the scene before authorities arrived and fired even after Washington was unarmed.
He noted that he doesn't condone Washington's actions and that he deserved to be punished, but not killed. He also said the shooter dumped a drink on Washington as he was leaving the restaurant and threw a cup at him.
"At the least, it's called abuse of a corpse, that's a misdemeanor crime in Harris County," he said.
Washington's mother, Corine Goodman, said the shooter should have stopped firing as soon as there was no longer a threat.
"If you had to kill him, I can deal with that. I can come to grips with that. He did something wrong, I understand that," she said. "But for him to be shot four times in the back leaving and when he falls down and he shoots him four more times. He abused him."
A grand jury is weighing whether the shooter will face charges.
Washington had a lengthy criminal history. In 2015, he was convicted of a lesser charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection to the shooting death of 62-year-old Hamid Waraich a father of three sons who was engaged, KTRK-TV reported.
He was paroled in 2021 and charged with assaulting his girlfriend in December 2022.
"If the guy who stopped Eric was around 10 years ago, maybe I'd still have my dad," Aman Waraich, the son of the store clerk that was killed, told the news outlet.
"Eric was an evil criminal that took joy in harassing and robbing innocent families. The individual at the taqueria is a true hero!" Sean Waraich, the victim's other son, said. "He did the right thing in stopping the robber and in protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator."