Shootout at the Fiesta Grocery - Innocent Bystander Killed in Crossfire
Slain man believed to be Fiesta robber ID'd
68-year-old woman killed as thieves and guard exchange gunfire
Detectives said they believe that a man found shot to death in northwest Harris County took part in a botched robbery at a Fiesta grocery store Friday night that left a customer dead.
"He fits the basic description," said Sgt. Robert Odom, of the Houston police homicide division.
Janette Dominguez, 68, was buying cold medicine at the supermarket in the 4100 block of Fulton about 8:45 p.m. when she was caught up in the crossfire between the robbers and a security guard, police said.
She later died at Ben Taub General Hospital. Police said an autopsy report showed that the bullet that struck Dominguez did not come from the security guard's gun.
The body of Lisbon Wilkins, 27, was found later that night along the 1200 block of Northville — about 10 miles from the Fiesta supermarket. Police said he had a gunshot wound to the torso.
Detectives on Sunday were awaiting ballistics tests to determine if Wilkins took part in the robbery and was struck by the security guard's gun.
"If the evidence we recovered matches the evidence at the scene, it'll probably be him," Odom said.
The store's security guard, who was shot in the abdomen, is reportedly in stable condition at Ben Taub.
"We're in the process of questioning a couple of witnesses," Odom said.
On the same night, the owner of a small Texas City grocery store shot and killed an armed robber, authorities said. No charges have been filed against the store owner.
At the Fiesta at Fulton and Patton, two men — one armed with a shotgun and the other with a handgun — entered the store about 9 p.m. on Friday, Odom said. Wearing hoods and ski masks, the gunmen threatened a male employee to try to gain access to the store's courtesy area.
"They apparently walked in and grabbed the nearest employee and demanded to be let into the courtesy booth," Odom said.
The armed security guard was taking a break in the coffee shop near the back of the store when he heard the disturbance and went to investigate, Odom said.
When one of the suspects saw the security guard come around the corner, he opened fire, said Odom, noting that the guard's uniform closely resembles an HPD uniform.
The gunmen and security guard exchanged gunfire.
Dominguez, who was waiting to check out in the first express lane near the entrance, got caught in the crossfire, authorities said.
"There was a bottle of cold medicine still sitting there," Odom said.
The gunmen fled in a stolen minivan that crashed several blocks away, in a ditch behind the Irvington Pentecostal Church. Police found blood inside the vehicle, thought to be from the man later found dead, Odom said.
"They were going to dump the van once they did the robbery," Odom said.
Witnesses told police the two men were immediately picked up by a third man in a dark Lincoln Town Car, similar to one found hours later abandoned in north Houston. The Town Car was not reported stolen, Odom said.
The van and the Lincoln Town Car were both taken in for processing by investigators, Odom said.
Albert Franco, a regular customer at the store who was waiting to make a purchase Friday night, said he dropped everything and ran out of the store when the gunfire broke out.
"Everything happened so fast," Franco said. "Once I realized what was going on, I started to run for my life."
About half the customers in the grocery left through a back door, Odom said.
At least one suspect from the Fiesta robbery remains at large. Anyone with information is asked to contact HPD's homicide division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
In Texas City, an unidentified man entered Jones Grocery in the 600 block of 9th Street North around 8:30 p.m. Friday dressed in black and armed with a shotgun, Texas City Police Department Capt. Brian Goetschius said.
An employee outside smoking a cigarette was able to alert store owner Joe Kainer Jr. before being ordered away by the gunman, Goetschius said.
The gunman entered the store and demanded money at Kainer's back counter, police said. After putting the cash in a bag, he demanded more money from the front register.
At the front counter, Kainer was able to pull his gun out, police said.
"As (the gunman) was opening the door to leave, which is within arm's length of the counter, still in possession of the shotgun and money, he was shot," Goetschius said.
The robber was pronounced dead on the scene.
"We believe (Kainer) acted within his rights under the laws of the state of Texas," Goetschius said.
Very sad that an innocent bystander was killed in this robbery. Hopefully the two that got away will be caught soon and charged with capital murder. It will be interesting to hear who's round killed the bystander, hopefully it wasn't the security guards.