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Police: Man who thought he was shooting at robbery suspect instead fatally shoots 9-year-old girl

Houston shooting
Posted at 7:20 AM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 13:52:58-05

HOUSTON — Houston police say a man who had just been robbed at an ATM opened fire in an attempt to stop his attacker but instead shot a 9-year-old girl in a truck driving nearby.

The girl later died at a hospital. Her family says Arlene Alvarez was on life support when she died on Tuesday, hours after the shooting Monday evening.

"I don't wish this on nobody," the girl's father, Armando Alvarez, said in a press conference on Tuesday. "If you got kids hold them tight. Hug them because you know one day...we think we're perfect, we think we're doing everything right then from one day to the next day, it's not even your fault...tables turn and the worst."

In a press release, police said the suspect, 41-year-old Tony Eals was in the ATM drive-thru at a local bank when he was robbed by "an unknown male." Police claim Eals got out of his truck and fired shots at the suspect, who fled on foot.

Eals then allegedly shot at a pickup truck into which he thought the robbery suspect had entered. Instead, that truck was carrying Armando Alvarez, Arlene and three other family members.

According to KHOU-TV, before the girl's death, police arrested Earls and charged him with aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury. It's unclear if the police plan to upgrade the charges.

Earlier this month, Houston officials announced a $44 million plan to tackle rising violent crime.

Arlene was the second 9-year-old shot and wounded in the nation's fourth-largest city within a week. Ashanti Grant was shot in the head during a road rage attack on Feb. 8.