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v28_shoot_first_articleThe streets are buzzing after an unarmed black man was gunned down after he allegedly tried to steal a 12-pack of beer from a local gas station located on Elgin near Dowling in southeast Houston.

According to police reports, 45-year old Troy D. Rector was at the Lone Star Grocery and Gas station, when a 19-year old store clerk confronted him about the theft of the 12-pack of beer.

That is when things took a turn for the worse.

Rector paid the ultimate price for his criminal indiscretion, when the 19-year-old clerk pursued him and shot him several times.

Rector died at the scene.

KILLED FOR A 12-PACK

Although most of the details are unclear, Sheemeka Brown said she found Rector’s body outside in the grass, but there was no weapon beside it.

"They could have said, ‘just put the beer down’ and let him walk out the store," Brown told ABC13. "They didn’t have to shoot the man."

The store is equipped with surveillance cameras on the inside and outside. The entire incident was recorded and is being reviewed by police.

M.D. Nasimuzzaman, a co-worker at the store, told KTRK-TV that the clerk who was on duty Thursday night was not aiming at the alleged robber when he fired his gun. He also said that the clerk who was on duty told him that the man became aggressive this time around, going so far as to challenge the clerk to a fight.

"He did not want to kill him," said Nasimuzzaman. "He just shot into the sky."

Workers at the gas station said Rector was a considerably bold and regular shoplifter and had stolen beer in the past.

"The one guy come here every day and he steals a 12-pack and 20-pack every day," said M. D. Zaman, another store employee.

FAMILY EXPRESSES ANGER

Members of Rector’s family and the community gathered to express their outrage at the shooting.

Rector’s sister, Terri Rector, spoke with members of the media and expressed her extreme anger and disappointment with the reaction of the store clerk.

"That was my brother," said Terri Rector. "He had his flaws like all of us, but he did not deserve to be gunned down by some young person who thought they was a vigilante taking the law into their own hands."

Relatives say Rector was off his medication and had escaped from a care facility just a few days before he was shot.

"We’re here because he took his life," said Glenda Banks, Rector’s aunt. "He left him out there to die. He did not call 911 to say, ’I just shot a man and he’s in the field here, he needs help.’"

An eyewitness to the shooting, who has chosen to remain anonymous, shared with the Houston Forward Times that they saw the entire incident unfold and provided their account to the police.

According to the eyewitness they told the police that the victim surrendered the beer and put his hands up in the air, and the clerk shot him anyway with no hesitation.

As of today, the 19-year old clerk has not been arrested or charged and the case has been referred to a grand jury.

JUSTIFIABLE FORCE?

In the wake of the recent arrest of Chad Holley for the same crime of burglary, there are many people in the community who are not as empathetic towards repeat criminals like Rector.

"Our people have to be accountable and bear some responsibility for their actions," said Third Ward resident Dennis Glenn. "Had he not stole some beer this would not be a discussion."

There are many in the community who share the same sentiments as Glenn. The question that many others have is, "Do individuals have the green light to fire at will at any criminal, regardless of the crime being committed?"

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the grand jury investigation, after ex-Texas firefighter Raul Rodriguez of Baytown, Texas, was recently sentenced to 40 years in prison after claiming he shot and killed his neighbor, Kelly Danaher, in self-defense. Under Texas law, you can use deadly force to protect yourself or your property if a crime is being committed and you’re in ‘fresh pursuit’.

Rep. Garnet F. Coleman, (D-Houston) released a statement regarding FBI data he received concerning avoidable homicides. He plans to file a bill to repeal or modify the Texas ‘Shoot First, Ask Later’ law.

"It is alarming that the number of so-called "justifiable" homicides in Texas and in the Houston area is on the rise, but not surprising," said Coleman. "This is precisely the reason why I voted against expanding Texas’ already extensive self-defense laws in 2007. What was passed then does not protect lives; it causes unnecessary deaths by using an ambiguous law to affirm a person’s violent actions. Just because killing a person can be justified as legal, that doesn’t make it right or just. An individual should not be allowed to be judge, jury, and executioner all in one---this goes beyond what justice is in America. That is why the law needs to be changed, and I will file legislation to repeal or substantially modify what was passed in 2007---returning Texas law to a balanced approach to self-defense that values human life."

The question will be whether the 19-year old clerk was in ‘fresh pursuit’ or was he able gain control over the situation by calling 911 or resolving the situation by other means.

The Houston Forward Times will keep you abreast of what becomes of this story.

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