Family of robbery victim accused in 9-year-old's deadly shooting in southeast Houston speaks out

Shelley Childers Image
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Family of robbery victim accused of shooting 9-year-old speaks out
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While the search continues for the suspect who set off a chain of events that killed a 9-year-old girl, the family of the robbery victim charged in the shooting spoke out on Monday

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The search continues for the robbery suspect who set off a chain of events that killed a 9-year-old girl. Now, the family of the robbery victim who is charged with the young girl's death shared his side of the story after he accidentally shot her instead of the alleged robber.

On Monday, Tony Earls sat by his family and attorney's side as they recalled the night of the shooting in southeast Houston that killed Arlene.

"On behalf of my husband and I, I'd like to first send my sincere condolences to the Alvarez family. The pain of losing a child is something no one should ever experience," said Earls' wife, Deyonna Hines. "As the parents of six children, we understand the unconditional love you have for your children and the overwhelming desire to protect them from this world. My husband felt the same desire to protect us that night we were robbed at gunpoint."

SEE ALSO: 9-year-old dies after being shot by robbery victim in SE Houston, authorities say

In her statement, Hines recalled the tragic night and that Earls did what he could to protect them as she said they didn't know if they were going to get out of the situation alive.

WATCH: Family of robbery victim accused of shooting 9-year-old speaks out

"We understand and support the Alvarez family in their journey for justice," Hines said. "The lives of two families have been forever altered by the poor decisions of a man who is still on the streets."

The shooting happened the night of Valentine's Day, when Arlene and her family were going out to get pizza. The family planned to stop at the Chase Bank in the 2900 block of Woodridge Drive on their way to make a deposit, according to her father Armando.

SEE ALSO: 'How many kids have to die?': Girl's family angered by release of accused gunman

That night, Earls and Hines went to the ATM to get money to buy groceries. While at the ATM, the robbery suspect walked up to Earls and Hines, pointed a gun at Hines' head and asked for money, according to Earls' attorney Brenna Dunn.

During the robbery, the suspect asked for Earls' car keys, to which Earls complied but the suspect threw them out. When the suspect began to walk away, Earls got out of his vehicle to pick up the keys and the robber began shooting at him, Dunn said.

Dunn added that the robbery suspect, in this case, yelled out for someone to get him, and that's why he thought Alvarez's vehicle was connected to the suspect.

SEE ALSO: Mother of 9-year-old shot to death during ATM robbery speaks out: 'I didn't scream loud enough'

"During this interaction, there is a vehicle driving by slowly that Earls is able to see. At some point, it's ironic that while this person is yelling, 'I'm going to get you,' and shooting that this car is driving slowly at the same time," Dunn said. "Earls believes it to be part of the same operative actions of the robber. At that part, they get back in the car, try to drive away and that car they saw before starts to back up. When that car backup, Earls gets out of his car trying to defend himself and his wife and shoots at that car - I believe twice- the car then speeds forward."

Dunn said the two shots fired in defense were the shots that struck Arlene.

But the Alvarez family's attorney Rick Ramos said Earls did not shoot in self-defense.

"Mr. Earls was at one point in time, the victim of a robbery at the ATM machine. Earls then turned into a reckless shooter that ended up killing Arlene Alvarez," Ramos said.

Ramos added that when Earls got out of his vehicle to grab the keys that were thrown out, he took out a pistol and aimed it in the direction of the robber and began shooting.

"Earls was discharging his firearm repeatedly in the direction of a robber, which he now has lost sight of. Can't see him," he said.

WATCH: Attorney for Alvarez family said robbery victim did not shoot in self-defense

It was during that shooting that Ramos said the Alvarez family's vehicle appeared on the scene. With the suspect out of sight, Ramos said Earls was the only one shooting.

"The only one who was doing the shooting was Earls, who was never under imminent threat or fear," Ramos said.

At this time, an investigation continues to find more information leading to the suspect's arrest.

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