Shooter in costume comes forward, claiming self-defense when man killed downtown, attorney says

Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Downtown gunman opened fire after victim lobbed slurs, lawyer claims
A man seen wearing a costume when a 20-year-old was killed on Austin near Lamar Street came forward as the shooter, his attorney said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man seen wearing a costume on surveillance footage when a 20-year-old was shot and killed in downtown Houston has come forward to police with what he said really happened, according to his attorney.

Hours after ABC13 reported that the gunman came forward two days ago, Houston police put out a release stating no charges are being filed at this time, and the case will go to a grand jury.

His attorney spoke only to ABC13 and said it's the clearest case of self-defense she has seen.

On Thursday, at about 1:30 a.m., officers responded to a shooting on Austin and Lamar Street in downtown.

The Houston Police Department put out surveillance footage, which was shortened and cut, showing the victim being held back by a second person while walking toward two people with a tripod on the street.

One of the men appears to kick the tripod and lunge forward before the shooter pulls out a gun and fires at the man who died. On the footage released by HPD, the shooter and another person of interest then left, returned hours later, and drove off in a Mazda 3 Hatchback.

ABC13 tracked down the shooter, who wants to keep his anonymity because he has not been charged.

According to his attorney, Allison Mathis, her client is in his mid-20s and from the Houston area.

The suspect and his partner are artists and amateur photographers who were taking pictures downtown and minding their own business, according to Mathis.

"They were accosted by a group of people who were causing trouble, and nobody wanted the result of this to be the loss of life, but my client clearly had no choice but to protect himself and his photographer," Mathis said.

According to Mathis, the shooting victim and the group he was with were demanding the camera.

"The camera was not pointed at them. They were taking pictures of themselves, not passersby on the street," Mathis said. "But the group of people were demanding the camera and using slurs to call them names. They kick at the tripod, the camera falls and smashes. And my client's partner was injured during that altercation. He was kicked in the ankle, and they were clearly coming out of them."

She said her client shot the victim out of self-defense and was left with no other choice.

"I truly believe my client did not have another choice at that moment," Mathis said. "The legal standard is what would a reasonable person think? You don't have to wait for someone to kill you or your partner before you can defend yourself."

In the chopped-up surveillance released by HPD, the shooter and his partner leave after the shooting and return to the scene hours later to get in a car and drive off.

However, Mathis said she was able to view the full video from police, which reveals why she says her client's boyfriend was assaulted again, and they were running away from any further attacks.

"They weren't running away from the scene. They were running away from further attacks," Mathis said. "In the video released to the media, you don't see what happened after the shooting. You see my client and his partner walk off. I think that's deceptive. You don't see the continued pursuit of them by the other people in the group, which the lengthier video shows. They were in continued danger, and they were escaping that, and the further this investigation goes, that's going to become very apparent."

Houston police showed images of the suspected shooter, a person of interest, and a suspect vehicle after a homicide in downtown on Nov. 9, 2023.

Mathis said her client did not immediately call 911 because he wanted to hire an attorney first. On Saturday, they contacted police, and on Sunday, detectives met Mathis and her client at her office, where he gave a statement.

Family members identified the shooting victim as 20-year-old Matthew Harris. His father said he was a respected young man who worked full-time while pursuing a music career. He was with his two brothers, who witnessed the shooting. His family previously told ABC13 that if the shooter had nothing to hide, he should have stayed and called 911.

Although surveillance footage released by HPD called the shooter a suspect, police later said he was considered a person of interest and just wanted to get his side of what happened.

Houston police will then present the case to the Harris County District Attorney's Office. According to the DA, he has not been charged, and the case is under investigation.

HPD Chief Troy Finner was quick to hold a press conference following the shooting, about how this was an isolated incident and downtown Houston is safe. However, police did not give an update that the shooter turned himself in until ABC13 reported it. Eyewitness News also asked why the full footage has not been released and whether the group of people the victim was with face any charges.

For updates on this story, follow Brooke Taylor on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.