HOUSTON - Community activists are defending four teenage armed robbery suspects after their deadly shootout with law enforcement at a fast food restaurant last week.
The New Black Panther group claims officers had been watching the suspects from before they went into the Jack-in-the-Box off Highway-6.
Activists believe law enforcement officers waited for them to take the cash and then shot the teens, firing as many as 62 rounds.
The activists say the teens never fired a shot. The four boys involved were 15, 16, 17 and 18 years old.
They are suspected of committing other 10 hold-ups. The 16-year-old was killed in the shootout; the other three are in jail.
Sheriff’s deputies say it took a joint robbery task force, which included four agencies, one with federal agents, to finally take down the four teenagers.
They say they spotted the foursome riding in the suspected get-away car, late Monday night, then followed them.
They didn’t pull them over and waited to see what they would do. The group stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box, and once inside, they held-up the fast-food worker behind the register.
Deputies say after the robbery, they fled the scene.
Once outside, law enforcement officers told them to drop their weapons.
Instead of surrendering, deputies say the teens fired their guns at them – and deputies they fired back: wounding all of them, killing one of them.
But at least one eyewitness tells a different story.
“Well I was in the drive through at the same time it was getting robbed," an eyewitness said. "Then I saw the SWAT guys running across with their machine guns on the sides of the dining room and started firing through the outside of the windows. Then one of the SWAT guys told me to get the hell out of there, and so I took off.”
New Black Panther activist Quanell X says a law enforcement source who was there on the night of the shootout leaked some contentious information.
He says the teens were ambushed during the hold up, and they never fired a shot.
“[The source] says, 'Quanell, we bagged everybody’s hands, even the deceased young man’s hands. Quanell they’re not going to find any gun powder residue, because they never shot.'” said Quanell X.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office has not yet commented.