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Legal expert explains why police want to question customer who shot robber at SW Houston restaurant

The customer has not been charged.

HOUSTON — A robbery suspect is dead after a customer he was trying to rob shot him multiple times, according to police. 

The Houston Police Department is currently looking for that customer. He’s not charged, but they want to ask him questions; questions that a lot of people have been asking on social media. 

“One of the reasons that law enforcement is seeking out this individual is to find out whether he was in fear for his life or the lives of the people around him because that’s absolutely essential to a self-defense claim under the law," KHOU Legal Analyst Carmen Roe said.

Friday night at The Ranchito Taqueria off Gessner in southwest Houston, it was business as usual, as if nothing ever happened. The restaurant was open and the glass door had already been replaced less than 24 hours after a robbery suspect was shot to death.  

Surveillance video captured everything. A masked man walked into the restaurant holding a gun, demanding customers' wallets.

As he grabs a wallet out of a customer's hand, another customer sitting in a booth reached for his gun. As the suspect walks away, the customer shoots at the suspect nine times, killing him.

READ: Robber shot, killed by customer at taqueria in SW Houston, police say

Roe says the shooting appears to be in self-defense.

“If you’re justified in shooting the first bullet, you’re justified in continuing to shoot until the deadly threat is no longer there," she said.

Roe said it doesn’t matter if the gun was fake. The threat was real.

“Everybody in that restaurant clearly believed it was a real gun," she said.

The customer who shot at the suspect left the restaurant after the shooting and many have asked if he was legally obligated to stay until police arrived.

“Staying there to answer questions, is important. It’s something that as a lawyer I would have advised to have done, but at the same time, you have no obligation to stay on the scene of a situation like that," Roe said.

The restaurant owner and employees are calling the customer a hero.

Police are also hoping to question any customers who were at the restaurant Thursday night. If you have any information about the shooting, you're asked to call them. 

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