Friday, July 29, 2022

No Bill for Man who Mistakenly Shot 9 Year Old During Robbery Defense



Robber appears to fire at Tony Earls during ATM Robber on 14 February, 2022, Houston, Texas


Link to surveillance video  on Youtube 

On February 14, 2022, at about 9:45 p.m., in Houston, Texas, Tony Earls and his wife were robbed at an ATM machine. They were depositing money, from the inside of their car. The robber stuck a gun in their faces and took $20 and a check, their car keys and a wallet, according to

Surveillance video captured the armed robber approaching Tony Earls
and his wife as they were depositing money into an ATM. He pointed a gun at the wife's face and demanded money, their car keys and wallet,
investigators said. 

Both Earls and his wife complied.

As shown in the surveillance video, the robber then fled the scene. Tony was armed. He left his car to retrieve the car keys the robber had thrown. The robber appears to have turned and fired at Tony, but there is no audio in the surveillance video.

Tony's attorney, Dunn, said Tony heard a gunshot and fired at a vehicle he thought contained the robber.  From on 21 February, 2022:

Dunn said Earls got out of the car to retrieve the keys, and that's
when the robber pulled a gun and fired one shot at him. Dunn said his
client returned fire, and as he was doing so, a vehicle was driving by
slowly. Earls thought the vehicle was part of a group that had just
robbed them and got back into his car, according to his attorney.

Dunn said his client got back into the car, and at that point, the
vehicle he had noticed began to back up slowly. That's when he said
Earls got back out of his car and fired two shots at the vehicle,
striking Arlene.

There is an important adage for people who carry firearms for defense of self and others, in the United States:

Every bullet has a lawyer attached.

Shooting profligately, without a clear understanding of where your bullets will end up, creates significant legal and ethical dangers.  Making a mistake of judgement, in a densely populated area, puts others at risk. In this case the mistake cost a nine year old girl, Arlene Alvarez, her life.

All parties to the event underwent life-changing stress. A Houston business man has put up a $25,000 reward (crime stoppers added another $5,000) for the arrest of the robber who sparked the tragic series of events. The Alvarez family will never be the same. Tony Earls' life will never be the same.

Texas has a system for the prosecution of homicides which can remove much of the judgement from the prosecutor and place it on a grand jury. Grand juries are presented with the evidence, and the grand jury decides if there is enough evidence to charge the individual with the crimes presented to them.

In the Earls case, the grand jury reviewed the evidence, and came to the conclusion that Earls did not act recklessly or with evil intent. When the grand jury refuses to indict, the action is called a "no bill".

The Harris County grand jury "no billed" Tony Earls. From

Tony Earls, 41, had been charged with aggravated assault, serious bodily injury, in Alvarez’s Feb. 14 death. A Harris County grand jury in Houston on Tuesday could have indicted him on this charge or several others, including manslaughter and murder, but declined to do so.

This case shows how complex self defense and defense of others can be. The lives of several individuals were all put at risk by the actions of a robber, who gained $20. A nine-year-old girl lost her life.

It also shows the advantages of the grand jury system in Texas. While grand juries can be, and often are, manipulated by prosecutors in Texas, in this case the jury was willing to go against the media narrative calling for prosecution of Tony Earls. They looked at all the evidence, and concluded there was not enough there for prosecution.

Everyone involved is calling for a felony homicide charge against the robber who ran from the scene.

In spite of the $30,000 reward, he remains unidentified at the time of this writing.

The ATM was the scene of  previous robberies.  In October of 2021 a 49-year-old woman, (Mary Jane Gonzalez) was killed near the ATM, with a single shot to the head. It is believed the robber obtained $40.

©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

Windy Wilson said...

Using my best Baroness von Schrader voice, "Haven't you heard of a delightful law called, Felony Murder?"
When you kick the lid off of hell, you don't know what you'll get, and if somebody else gets killed, you, the robber, is responsible for it.

That being said, Colonel Cooper's Rule 4 applies.

You never shoot at anything until you have positively identified it. You never fire at a shadow, or a sound, or a suspected presence. You shoot only when you know absolutely what you are shooting at and what is beyond it.

A fleeing robber isn't a threat, even if he did shoot a moment before turning his back and fleeing.