HOUSTON -- A man who leapt to save his brother’s life from a violent gunman was shot to death on Monday morning inside their family business in a brazen but botched robbery.
The shooting happened inside a small Chinese restaurant near the busy intersection of Griggs Road and Calhoun Boulevard in southeast Houston.
It’s a modest diner that police said had only recently opened for business.
"It’s sad," said Lt. John Zitzmann, a homicide investigator dispatched to the murder scene Monday morning. "The family is on the side of the building now. And they’re crushed."
The brothers were preparing to open Mah Express around 10:45 a.m. when the gunman barged through the unlocked front door. Investigators say he fired at least two shots into the ceiling, then turned his gun on one of the men working in the restaurant.
"For no reason, from what we understand, he shot one brother in the thigh," Zitzmann said. "The second brother ran to his aid by, as we understand it, attacking the gunman. And at that time, he shot the brother in the chest cavity."
Cheun-Wei Mah, 49, died of a gunshot wound to his chest. Victor Mah, 46, survived.
A cook ran out a back door to get help.
The gunman bolted out of the door, jumped into a newer model, white SUV parked outside an auto supply shop next door and sped away.
His escape through the streets of southeast Houston left people who live and work in the neighborhood frightened.
"If there is a killer in the area, we would like to know," said Sandra Nicely, who works at another neighborhood restaurant.
A surveillance camera mounted outside the business next door may have photographed the fleeing killer. Investigators offered a distinctive description of the gunman.
"The suspect is an African-American male in his early 30s, light-skinned in complexion," said Sgt. Melissa Holbrook, a Houston police homicide investigator. "He was wearing black shorts, a black shirt and a green and yellow colored baseball cap -- maybe with a Celtics logo—as well as yellow and green tennis shoes, possibly high tops."
Anyone with information on the suspect can call Houston Police directly or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.