HOUSTON – There were some terrifying moments Thursday morning for employees and customers of a jewelry store just west of the Galleria area.
Two armed robbers stormed into Nazar’s Fine Jewelry in the 5800 block of Westheimer around noon.
"We were shopping, we heard glass breaking, then we heard shots fired," said Stephanie York, a witness.
York and her husband dived behind a counter.
One suspect began punching and kicking the store’s security guard, while the other scooped up jewelry.
They didn’t realize an off-duty HPD cop was working a side job in the store.
"We can see the officer, from the counter we were hiding behind," York said. "We heard the officer say, ‘Drop your weapon.’"
Police say the officer was threatened by one of the robbers and was forced to shoot.
"Turned and raised his hand, holding the pistol. The officer then, fearing for his safety, discharged his weapon," said HPD spokesman Keese Smith.
The other suspect fired at shot at the officer as he was running out the door. He missed.
Witnesses having lunch next door at the Tacos Del Julio saw what happened next.
"The guys took off running this way, they started going crazy," said Jose Padilla. "There was a guy just laying down there."
The wounded suspect was taken to an area hospital. We don’t know his condition, but he was conscious when Air 11 flew over the scene.
Police used helicopters and K-9 units to search for the other suspect, but they never found him.
Stephanie York was glad that no one else in the store was hurt. She said her husband never lost his sense of humor.
"My husband said, ‘If you weren’t returning the present I gave you, we wouldn’t be in this situation,’ while we were hiding," York said.