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Business manager arrested after 7-year-old hurt in gunfire

HOUSTON – The 24 Hour Tire Shop on the South Loop in south Houston is normally a pretty busy place -- all hours of the day and night. But Wednesday evening it was a scene filled with chaos -- an argument between a customer and employee, in which witnesses say one man attempted to run over the other with a car, and the other fired a weapon that injured a 7-year-old.

"I just heard a gunshot and that's it," recalls Santos Castro, a tire technician at the shop.  

Castro says he was installing a tire Wednesday evening just after 6 p.m. when he says one of his managers, 25-year-old Royce Thomas, got into an argument with the customer who was here with his son. At one point Castro says the man got in his car with the boy to drive away but then drove toward Thomas.

Royce Thomas is seen in this mugshot released by the Houston Police Department on Dec. 28, 2018.
Royce Thomas is seen in this mugshot released by the Houston Police Department on Dec. 28, 2018.

"The guy reversed, and then he hit my manager," Castro says. "My manager jumped on top of his roof on the little corner because I seen his leg getting dragged."

Witnesses say the car pulled onto the feeder road and dragged Thomas about a half block. They say at some point either before or after Thomas pulled free, the shot was fired. Shrapnel from the bullet wounded the 7-year-old.

Witnesses also say Thomas ran back to the tire shop and about an hour later was arrested by police.

One of the most senseless details of the incident is that the argument allegedly started over the cost of filling tires with air.

"The guy was just upset," claims a store manager who did not want to be identified.  "Enraged that he had to pay a dollar per tire."

Thomas remains in jail charged with aggravated assault.


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