Man who may have been trying to shoplift soda at convenience store shot by employee, HPD says

Thursday, October 19, 2023
Man shot in SE Houston may have been trying to shoplift soda, HPD says
A man who police believe stole sodas from a gas station on Wayside Drive in southeast Houston on Tuesday was shot in the back, HPD said.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man who was possibly shoplifting at a convenience store in southeast Houston on Tuesday night was shot in the back, according to police.

Houston police responded to a shooting call shortly after 7:40 p.m. at a gas station located at 2402 S. Wayside Dr., near the I-45 Gulf Freeway.

At the scene, officers found a man who had been shot in the back. He was taken to the hospital in critical but stable condition and is expected to survive, HPD said.

Investigators say the shooting may have stemmed from the theft of soda from the gas station.

"We know that a gentleman came in and potentially committed theft, and another individual came out and then shot the gentleman, who we believe committed a theft at this time," Investigator K. Shaver said.

When an ABC13 crew arrived at the scene, they spotted several cans of soda on the ground.

Police later confirmed the shooter was an employee of the convenience store.

Now, the shooter is being questioned by police. ABC13 asked HPD if any charges would be filed.

"Ultimately, it's up to the [District Attorney's Office to decide] if this will be a grand jury case or if charges will be placed, but that's probably going to be in the future," Shaver said.

Criminal defense attorney Peyton Peebles said under Texas law, someone can use deadly force when a theft is occurring at night.

"Under the law, if someone's running away stealing your property at night, then you have the right to defend your property, and you can use deadly force if you don't think there's any other way to do that reasonably," Peebles said. "But the next question is, should you?"

Peebles said it is up to the district attorney's office to decide if they present the theft at night defense during a grand jury presentation.

"You can expect to be put under a microscope," Peebles explains. "You can expect to be taken to a grand jury, possibly indicted, because we're talking about a defense, and the defense only comes up at trial, so you may find yourself going through the entire criminal justice system and paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to an attorney."

Earlier this month, a now-former Carter's Country employee was charged with murder for shooting a man who was seen on camera stealing from the register. The man who was killed was shot during the daylight in the back as he ran.

Peebles said he fears that since open carry was signed into law in 2021, people are not properly informed of when the use of deadly force is warranted. Previously to legally carry a handgun, a person had to attend classes to obtain their concealed handgun license.

"They had to learn the law," Peebles explained. "They had to learn, 'When is self-defense appropriate? When is it not appropriate?' My fear is fewer and fewer people are looking at the law ahead of time, and they're making rash decisions in the midst of a high-stress situation without the benefit of having looked at it in advance."