Gunfire erupts outside grocery store; investigators question first accounts

HOUSTON -- Gunfire erupted outside a grocery store in north Harris County Monday afternoon as a store owner shot a man who investigators initially identified as a suspected robber.

The injured suspect, shot in the buttocks, was expected to survive. But hours after the incident, authorities interrogating several witnesses in at least three places began to question whether anyone had even been robbed.

The trouble erupted at a cell phone repair shop in a shopping strip on West Road near Ella Boulevard, when two men initially identified as robbers walked into the store Monday around 4:30 p.m.

Authorities piecing together a series of confusing reports initially said the cell phone store was robbed and the owner chased the suspects to a Fiesta store on West Mount Houston Road. In the parking lot of the store, the store owner reportedly shot one of the suspects, forced the injured man into his vehicle and drove him away.

The initial report said the suspect suffering from a gunshot wound bolted out of the vehicle and later turned up at a nearby hospital. Meanwhile, investigators said, the second suspect was discovered in a residential area.

But as robbery investigators spent more time sorting out the story, they began to question the initial account and raised the possibility the store hadn't even been robbed.

"It's early in the investigation, so I don't really know what's transpired at this point or what's perceived to have been have happened today," said Sgt. Joe Freeman, a robbery investigator with the Harris Co. Sheriff's Office. "It may be something that's been ongoing for a couple of days."

The store owner's wife said he thought the same men were responsible for another robber at the same shop.

Investigators planned to take statements from al l of the witnesses scattered in four different locations and look at surveillance video from inside the store in an attempt to determine exactly what happened.


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