A man who had just been robbed at gunpoint at an ATM in southeast Houston opened fire in an attempt to stop his attacker but instead shot a 9-year-old girl in a truck driving nearby, police said. The girl later died at a hospital, the AP reports. Arlene Alvarez had been on life support before she died on Tuesday, her father Armando Alvarez told reporters. Alvarez said Arlene was sitting in the backseat of his truck and was wearing headphones when the shooting started Monday evening. “When we were getting shot at the first time, and I told them ‘get down,' she was the only one who didn’t get down. She didn’t hear me," Alvarez said. He said he was driving his family to Arlene's favorite restaurant when the shooting happened.
Tony Earls, 41, was charged Tuesday with aggravated assault and serious bodily injury in the shooting, police announced. He was being held in the Harris County Jail on a $30,000 bond. Arlene's death was announced shortly after police said Earls had been charged. Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said prosecutors will look at possibly upgrading charges against Earls. “Our hearts go out to the Alvarez family. We are going to review all the evidence, apply the law and determine what charges are appropriate," Schiller said.
Executive Assistant Police Chief Matt Slinkard on Monday night called the shooting “an unbelievably tragic event." On Monday, Earls and his wife were at the ATM at around 9:45pm when another man walked up to their vehicle and robbed them at gunpoint, Slinkard said. As the suspect fled on foot, Earls got out of his vehicle and opened fire, including at a pickup truck he thought the robbery suspect had climbed into, police said. But the truck carrying a family of five was not involved and had been “simply driving” down a street near the ATM, Slinkard said. Earls, who later called police to report the robbery, told authorities he did not know his gunfire had hit the truck. Police were searching for the robbery suspect. They have not determined if that man returned fire or was shot. (Another 9-year-old girl was shot in Houston in a road rage incident last week.)