‘This was not self-defense’: Arlene Alvarez’s family demands justice for 9-year-old killed after robbery, accidental shooting at Chase Bank ATM

9-year-old dead after being shot by man who was shooting at robbery suspect

HOUSTON – The relatives of a 9-year-old girl who was shot and killed when her family’s vehicle was struck after a robbery at a southwest Houston Chase Bank ATM drive-thru spoke out Wednesday with their attorney about what they deem is Chase Bank’s responsibility in her death.

In a news release, the family’s attorney Rick Ramos pointed to crime in the area and what he said is Chase Bank’s culpability in this case and another – the death of Mary Jane Gonzalez in October 2021, in which she was killed at the same bank as Arlene Alvarez – the location in the 2900 block of Woodridge Drive and Village Way.

“Chase Bank and the management company are responsible for what is going on at their property, because they have done, in our opinion a little to zero in order to prevent this tragedy,” Ramos says. “Learning from what had occurred in the Mary Jane murder, which was highly publicized, Chase Bank was on notice that an armed robbery on the premises would cause a shooting and be the proximate cause of the death of another. In this case, the senseless murder of a 9-year-old little girl.”

He goes on to say, “the security measures that Chase bank should have instituted long ago to prevent the unreasonable risk of persons being murdered by violent crimes committed on their premises, is very low in cost compared to the ultimate loss of two lives within five months. They could have either shut down the ATM machine or not offer a 24-hour service if they knew that violent crimes are committed at the bank premises at night or they need to utilize other strategies in order to prevent these tragedies.”

Hector Gonzalez, Mary Jane Gonzalez’s widow said, “Chase Bank doesn’t care for human life in my opinion, no one from Chase Bank even reached out to me. No condolences, not a word, nothing. My prayers to the family and to all of us that daily have to put our life at risk with the crime wave in Houston and Harris County.”

Arlena’s father, Armando Alvarez, also questioned the suspect, Tony D. Earls, reportedly being released on bond one day after the deadly shooting.

“But my question is, this person is out? I’m trying to ask and confirm why is this person out on bond and my daughter’s not here? How are these things possible? I just don’t get it,” Armando said. “You know, how long does it take for me to get an update on the status? You know, it just happened yesterday.”

The father went on to say that he does not believe the shooting was self-defense because Earls, who was a victim of a robbery moments before the shooting, started firing shots at the person who robbed him when they were more than 100 feet away.

Armando said Earls was less than 10 feet away from his vehicle when he fired multiple shots, one hitting the gas tank and another striking his daughter in the head.

He said he told his entire family who were in the vehicle at the time of the shooting to duck down, but Arlena had on headphones and could not hear him.

The family is holding a vigil at the Chase Bank where Arlena was shot Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Editor’s update: On Wednesday afternoon following the family’s news conference, Chase Bank released the following statement:

“We’re saddened by this tragic incident and offer our sincere condolences to the Alvarez family. We are working closely with local officials who are handling the investigation.”

WATCH the family’s full press conference below:

The family said they do not believe the shooting was self-defense

RELATED: 9-year-old dies after being shot while in family’s vehicle; ATM robbery victim charged in her accidental shooting, police say

RELATED: ‘She was my soulmate’: Husband pleads with public to help identify his wife’s killer

RELATED: Rash of shootings involving children: These are the cases that rocked neighborhoods across the Houston area in recent months


About the Authors:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.