A 28-year-old Marine veteran killed a robbery suspect in a wild shootout in the parking lot of a shopping center in northeast Harris County.
Sheriff's deputies are not identifying the man who they say was having lunch at a sandwich shot next door when he saw the suspect and an accomplice put on hoodies and bandannas in the parking lot at around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, and go into a GameStop store located at Wallisville Rd and Beltway 8.
Harris Co. Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Gilliland says the Marine veteran walked out to his truck and armed himself with a pistol while the suspects were inside the store. They robbed a clerk, and took cash and computer games, then ran outside to their getaway car to find the veteran waiting for them.
"At that point, the robber raised his pistol and aimed it at the 28-year-old male," Gilliland said. "Fearing for his life, he exchanged gunfire with the robber. After several rounds were fired the robber attempted to leave in the vehicle. He was struck and killed as he was sitting inside the vehicle."
The second suspect ran when the shooting started. Witnesses saw him stripping off his clothes as he attempted to get away.
"We heard a pop, pop, pop,” said John Richardson, who had stopped at the shopping center to have lunch. "Right when we heard it we saw a young man. He stopped and started taking off his clothes. He took off a bandanna, he took off a hoodie, and then he proceeded to go along a fence line."
A restaurant employee who was sitting in her car with a friend saw the man look her way and feared he might try to take her car.
"It looked like he seen us sitting there and looked like he wanted to come toward us and so I just ducked a little bit, and then when I see him run some more, I got out car and ran into KFC and called 911," Rotunda Ards said.
While deputies searched for the second suspect, four nearby schools were locked down -- Aguirre Junior High School and Harvey Brown Elementary School in the Channelview School District, and North Shore Middle School and North Shore High School in Galena Park ISD.
The suspect was caught a short time later near a Sears store across the street from the shooting scene.
Investigators say the veteran who intervened in the robbery was not hurt. They say he has a concealed handgun permit for the pistol. He was questioned by homicide detectives and left the scene without comment. Gilliland said the man was still shaken up by the experience.
Investigators have not released the names of the suspects, who they describe as Hispanic males in their 20s.