Robbery Victim Shoots At Fleeing Suspect, 9-year-old Girl In Passing Vehicle Fatally Wounded

HOUSTON, TEXAS – A robbery victim is now in jail facing serious charges in the death of a child as a result of tragic events that unfolded Monday evening in Southeast Houston.

Tony Earls, 41, and his wife were in their vehicle at an ATM around 9:45 p.m. when another man walked up to the vehicle and robbed Earls at gunpoint.  As the suspect ran away from the scene, Earls exited his vehicle and fired his gun in the direction of the suspect and at a pickup truck that he thought the suspect had gotten into.

The truck, however, was occupied by a family of five on their way to their 9-year-old daughter’s favorite restaurant. That girl, Arlene Alvarez, was struck in the head by a bullet from Earls’ gun. She was transported to a local hospital and placed on life support. Monday night, Executive Assistant Police Chief Matt Slinkard described the shooting “an unbelievably tragic event.”

Earls, who later called police to report the robbery, told authorities he did not know his gunfire had hit the truck. On Tuesday, Houston Police announced that Earls was charged with aggravated assault and serious bodily injury and was being held in the Harris County Jail on a $30,000 bond. Shortly after that announcement, it was learned that the child had died from her injuries.

As a result of the death, Harris County District Attorney’s Office representative Dane Schiller said prosecutors will look at possibly upgrading charges against Earls. “Our hearts go out to the Alvarez family. We are going to review all the evidence, apply the law and determine what charges are appropriate,” Schiller said.

Texas law does allow the use of lethal force against a fleeing suspect of a property crime under very limited circumstances; however, that offers no legal protection to a gun owner who injures or kills anyone other than the suspect. A very important gun safety rule is to know your target and what is beyond it.

Earls apparently overlooked this rule when he fired his gun at a truck that he thought the suspect was in, and he will likely face criminal charges and civil lawsuits that will make his loss in the robbery seem very insignificant. Yes, he had a legal right to have a firearm, and he may have had the legal right to use it against the suspect; however, there is absolutely no reason to shoot into a vehicle with unknown occupants. It is irresponsible firearm use, period.

About the Author

Edgar Lee is a contributor for Concealed Nation. After spending 20 years in the fire service, he is currently in his second career as a business and technology manager, and he and his wife are successful small business owners.

Outside of work his interests include camping, hiking, fishing, metal detecting, home improvement projects and motorcycling. He also enjoys reading biographies and auto biographies, military history, and writing about modern-day personal safety and security. He has visited much of the continental US, but still considers his home state of North Carolina as his favorite.

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