A suspected vehicle thief has died in a mall parking lot gunfight in Texas after the owner of the truck he allegedly stole managed to track him down, police say.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told reporters that the shooting happened outside the South Park Mall on Thursday just two minutes after officers received a call about the theft.
“The owner of the stolen vehicle certainly has the right to track down their vehicle,” he said. “Now, we would prefer that they called the police before taking that into their own hands, but he did what he felt he needed to do.”
McManus said the incident unfolded when the owner of the stolen vehicle – who was with a female companion – first tracked it down to the mall’s parking lot.
“They show up, they find the vehicle, there is two individuals – a male and a female – in the vehicle,” the police chief said. “The owner of the stolen vehicle gets the driver … and the passenger out of the truck at gunpoint.”
Manus said the owner or the person he was with then notified police.
“The suspect in the stolen vehicle was seated by the rear tire of the vehicle. So at some point, the person who stole the vehicle and who is now being held at gunpoint by the owner of the vehicle produces a weapon from his waistband and shoots the owner of the vehicle,” he continued.
The vehicle owner then returned fire, striking the alleged thief and leaving him “deceased in the parking lot,” according to McManus.
The female passenger with the alleged thief also was struck by gunfire and is in critical condition at a local hospital, he said.
The driver, meanwhile, is reported to be in stable condition and has received medical treatment as well.
The identities of those involved were not immediately released by police.
“He was trying to recover his property,” McManus said, describing the vehicle as a Ford truck. “I guess it would depend on who you ask, whether he did the right thing or not.”
A man identified by KENS 5 as being the brother of the victim told that station, “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,” Jose Garcia told KENS 5. “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.”