HOUSTON—An off-duty Houston police officer shot and killed one of two young men accused in a beating and robbery late Sunday.
The shooting happened just before 9 p.m. on W. Gulf Bank near the North Freeway, according to a statement released by the Houston Police Department.
Officer C. Rodriguez was passing by the X-Press Stop corner store when he saw two men jump out from behind a dumpster and beat someone. The officer, who was in his personal truck, turned around and approached the suspects. Without getting out of his vehicle, he ordered the men to stop.
The officer said one of the suspects turned toward him and pulled up his shirt to expose a gun. He
then started walking toward the officer in a threatening manner, police said.
“Thankfully our off-duty officer is OK,” said HPD spokesman John Cannon. “He was inside the truck the entire time, the suspect was walking toward him, gaining ground on him, facing him—right on—showing the pistol. At that point the officer wasn’t taking any chances.”
The officer, fearing for his life, opened fire and shot the suspect. The second suspect, who turned out to be a juvenile, fled and was later arrested at a home on the other side of the freeway.
“It’s an officer who saw the individuals beating and robbing a male victim in the street, and he took what he thought was the appropriate action to keep this victim from being more hurt than he was,” said Cannon.
The beating victim was not seriously injured.
HPD said Officer Rodriguez is a 22-year-veteran of the force.
Police identified the killed suspect as Oscar Gaspar, 17.
Some witnesses said Gaspar never had a gun.
“When they searched him in front of me, I didn’t see them find anything,” said Victor Hernandez, a 13-year-old witness.
Sergio Ramirez, who is the robbery suspect’s friend, agreed.
“i saw him right there, laying down, barely breathing. I was trying to see if he was OK, he was barely breathing. Then he stopped breathing,” he said.
Family members said they will never know what really happened. Gaspar died in front of his friend’s home, which may have captured the incident on surveillance video. Officers confiscated several surveillance cameras that were posted in front of the home.
Gaspar’s family said he worked with his father at a concrete company. He leaves his two younger sisters and his mother and father.
As is standard procedure, HPD Homicide, HPD Internal Affairs, and the Harris County District Attorney's Office are investigating the shooting.