HOUSTON, TX–A police team has been trying to locate five robbery suspects in the hours prior to their last stop, and have finally discovered four of them in a furniture store. The officers fatally shot two suspects and injured the others. The fifth individual is still at large.
Houston police spokesman John Cannon declined to elaborate on Friday when asked why the suspects weren’t interrogated before the shooting late Thursday at the Affordable Furniture store. However, he did mention that the group had changed vehicles throughout the day and lost sight of the suspects at several points.
Five officers were faced by four suspects, one of them being armed, and two guns were obtained at the scene. One suspect was escorted to a hospital with an unknown injury while another was treated before being arrested. The ages and identities of the suspects have yet to be released.
The individual who avoided the shooting posed as an employee–hiding behind the counter while the gunfire ensued. Officers saw that the man was wearing an ankle monitor and determined he was one of the suspects, according to Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union.
Hunt said the tactical team did not have the evidence, or “probable cause,” it needed to interrogate the suspects before they were tracked to the furniture store. However, when the group walked of a store carrying stolen items, the police officers decided that they needed to get involved.
The suspects did not cooperate with orders, and the officers felt as though they had no choice but to shoot.
“With the evidence that this tactical team then had, they did everything absolutely appropriate to engage the suspects,” Hunt said.
Taj Ali, Affordable Furniture owner, told The Associated Press that an employee who was present during the attack said that the robbers held a gun to her head and forced her to lead them to the safe.
At that point, officers interrupted the robbery, shots were fired and one of the suspects yelled, “Time to go,” Ali said his employee told him.
Cannon said it wasn’t clear whether the suspects had fired any shots, but that investigators would analyze shell casings to account for all shots that were fired shortly.