One alleged truck thief is dead, another wounded in a Texas shootout that also left the vehicle's owner wounded. The dead man's brother audaciously claims "the victim was my brother" -- a sentiment that will find few subscribers in the Lone Star State.
The action started early Thursday afternoon at the South Park Mall on the southwest side of San Antonio. A 45-year-old man exited the mall along with his female passenger, only to find his Ford truck was missing. Looking around, they spotted the truck in a nearby lot at the same mall -- with the apparent thieves sitting in it.
The owner approached his truck and -- displaying a pistol -- ordered the 34-year-old male driver and the thief's 25-year-old female passenger to step outside and take a seat on the pavement. Two minutes after police were called, the male suspect drew a pistol from his waistband and shot the truck's owner.
The owner returned fire, hitting and killing the shooter and critically wounding the shooter's companion. Clarifying the account at a press conference held at the mall, San Antonio police chief William McManus said, "The bad guy is the one dead, yes. The driver of the stolen vehicle is deceased, shot by the owner of the stolen vehicle."
When questioned about the propriety of the truck owner's actions, McManus was quick to render a verdict. "Certainly a case of self-defense is what we have. Look, he was trying to recover his property," McManus said. "I guess it would depend on who you asked if he did the right thing or not."
"We would prefer that they call the police before taking that into your own hands," McManus said. "But he (the truck's owner) did what he felt he needed to do and we have one dead suspect and we have a critically wounded passenger who was with the suspect and we have a wounded owner of the vehicle."
Speaking to KENS 5 at the scene, the dead man's brother, Jose Garcia, said the truck owner was wrong:
“The victim was my brother and there are two sides to every story. Whether my brother was wrong or right, he had a gun pointed at him. I guess he took it upon himself to defend himself.
The guy who shot him is a vigilante, not a hero. A vehicle is not worth taking someone's life, I don't care what kind of car it is. You don’t take the law into your own hands. Now my mom, my family, we all have to suffer and just deal with it.”
Texas affords citizens more latitude than most when it comes to using force to recover stolen property. "Potentially, under Texas law, he may have been acting within what the law says he got to do," Alexandra Klein, an assistant law professor at San Antonio's St. Mary's University told NBC.
Here's to armed self-defense and laws that enable the defense of property.