HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas man on a date who paid $40 to park, only to learn inside a Houston burger joint that he was scammed, allegedly went back and fatally shot the man posing as an attendant and then returned for dinner, according to court records.
Erick Aguirre appeared in court Thursday on murder charges in the April 11 death of 46-year-old Elliot Nix. His bond was set at $200,000. His attorney, Brent Mayr, declined to comment.
Aguirre, 29, allegedly told his date “everything was fine” and that he just scared the man after returning to the Rodeo Goat restaurant from the parking lot. They then started walking to a table but left to eat someplace else after Aguirre looked uncomfortable, according to court records.
Aguirre’s date contacted police two days later after police had released photos of the couple, who had been identified by tips to Crime Stoppers.
“She wanted to do the right thing. She wanted to make sure that she came forward and told the police what she knew,” Rick DeToto, the woman’s attorney said.
Police say Aguirre, 29, and his date had parked their vehicles near the downtown restaurant when Nix approached them, saying it would cost $20 each to park their cars, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Aguirre paid the $40 but was later told by a restaurant employee that Nix didn’t work for the parking lot and had scammed them, police said.
An employee at a nearby smoke shop later told police he saw Aguirre run back to his car, grab a pistol and go after Nix. The employee said both men went out of his view but he heard a gunshot before 8 p.m., then saw Aguirre “nonchalantly walking back to his car with the gun in his hand” before putting the gun back in his car. Aguirre then walked back to the restaurant and go inside with his date, according to the affidavit.
Nix was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
Aguirre, who lives near Corpus Christi, located about 200 miles (320 km) southwest of Houston, was arrested earlier this week. He remained jailed Thursday.
Houston criminal defense attorney Grant Scheiner, who’s not affiliated with the case, said that under state laws related to protection of property, Aguirre’s attorney will likely be able to make an argument that the use of deadly force was justified.
But the circumstances related to this case, including retrieving a weapon when there was no immediate danger and then continuing with one’s dinner after the alleged shooting, will not help Aguirre, Scheiner said.
In 2021, Texas lawmakers approved legislation allowing people to carry handguns without a license, and the background check and training that had gone with it.
“The problem is that guns are just so widely available and there’s a lot of misinterpretation on when you can use deadly force,” Scheiner said. “You have a lot of guns and not very much knowledge.”
Nix’s fatal shooting comes after several high-profile incidents around the U.S. where nonviolent situations — going to a mistaken address, getting into the wrong car or going into a neighbor’s yard to retrieve a basketball — devolved into shootings.