Brennen Dunn is representing 41-year-old Tony Earls, who has been charged with aggravated assault with severe bodily injury in connection with Arlene's death. Earls has since posted a $100,000 bond and has been released from jail.
Earls was at the news conference, and although he wanted to speak, Dunn advised him not to do so. Earls' wife, Deyonna Hines, issued a statement Monday on her husband's behalf.
"We didn’t know if we’d get out alive. My husband did what he could. Without this man trying to rob us, we wouldn’t be in this position," she said in part. "The lives of two families have been forever altered by the poor decision of a man who is still on the streets."
Hines said she and Earls are parents to six children and are grieving along with the Alvarez family over the events that happened near the Chase Bank at the intersection of Winkler and Woodridge drives on Feb. 14. Hines said she understands the Alvarez family's pursuit of justice and also understands their pain.
"Our nights are sleepless thinking about your pain," Hines said.
She said they would continue to pray for them.
Dunn and Hines said the robber who pointed a gun at them is the "real demon" in this situation.
What Dunn says happened
Dunn said the way the night unfolded was an "unfortunate series of events." He said claims by the Alvarez family that the shooting happened during a drug deal gone wrong are completely unfounded.
Dunn gave a recap of what they said happened that night.
He said Earls and Hines were together when they pulled up to the ATM to get money for food. He said the robber approached their car with a gun drawn and pointed it at Hines' head while asking for money.
Dunn said Earls and Hines complied and gave the robber what they had, including the keys to the car. As he was walking away, according to Dunn, the robber threw the keys on the ground.
Dunn said Earls got out of the car to retrieve the keys, and that's when the robber pulled a gun and fired one shot at him. Dunn said his client returned fire, and as he was doing so, a vehicle was driving by slowly. Earls thought the vehicle was part of a group that had just robbed them and got back into his car, according to his attorney.
Dunn said his client got back into the car, and at that point, the vehicle he had noticed began to back up slowly. That's when he said Earls got back out of his car and fired two shots at the vehicle, striking Arlene.
"It's been eating him up inside," Earls' attorney said. "This has him up all night, every night."
Texas' gun laws recently changed and a license to carry a firearm is no longer required. Dunn said Earls was within his rights to have the gun.
Houston police have released surveillance video of the man believed to be the robber.
Rick Ramos, the attorney representing the Alvarez family, disputed the self-defense claims while noting the number of shots heard in a surveillance video he released.
“This situation is nothing more than a murder because you can not discharge the firearm that many times,” Ramos said.
Same robber, same ATM?
Dunn said they believe the same man who robbed Earls and Hinds on Valentine's Day also robbed and shot a woman at the same ATM last year.
In October 2021, Mary Jane Gonzales was shot and killed at the ATM over $40, according to investigators.
Alvarez family attorney spoke Friday
In a news conference this past Friday, The attorney for the Alvarez family said they expect the charge against Earls to be upgraded to murder.
"The amount of the bond, the $100,000, does not correlate with the moral values in our community, which is to protect our children," the family's attorney said during that news conference. "If you killed a child in this community, and it was by intentional act, and it was reckless in nature, and we can show that on the probable cause hearing, you should have no bond."
The family's attorney said a lawsuit is in the works against the bank where the incident started. They claim the bank and the area are a hotspot for crime.
"In the state of Texas now, when you file a lawsuit, within 30 days of your defendant answering, you better have a piece of evidence, documents, audio recordings to be able to back up the filing of your lawsuit," the attorney said. "When we file it, it's because we mean something."
Chase bank statement
Chase bank provided KHOU 11 the following statement regarding the incident:
“We’re saddened by this tragic incident and offer our sincere condolences to the Alvarez family. We are working closely with local officials who are handling the investigation."