9-Year-Old Houston Girl Shot by Man Who Was Robbed at ATM, Police Say [VIDEO]

A man was arrested after police say he shot and killed a 9-year-old girl while firing at a man he said robbed him at a Chase Bank ATM on Woodridge Drive in Houston on Monday night, February 14, 2022, police said. The girl, identified by her family as Arlene Alvarez, was taken to a local hospital and was later pronounced dead. The robbery suspect has not been arrested.

Houston Police said Tony D. Earls, 41, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury in Harris County court. Records show he is being held on $30,000 bond pending his first court appearance. Earls, a Houston resident, has three prior misdemeanor convictions in Harris County, but does not appear to have any felonies on his record that would make it illegal for him to possess a gun.

Arlene Alvarez had been in critical condition after she was taken to the hospital, but police tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “Sadly, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences advised late this afternoon that the nine-year-old girl has been pronounced deceased.” It was not immediately clear if Earls will face new charges.

tony earls houston

Houston PoliceTony Earls.

“HPD patrol officers responded to a shooting call at the above address. Upon arrival, they found the juvenile victim unresponsive in her parent’s disabled vehicle,” police said in a press release. “Further investigation determined the shooting suspect was with his wife at a bank ATM drive-thru at the above address when an unknown male robbed them. The shooting suspect first shot at the robbery suspect, who was fleeing on foot, and then at a pickup truck he thought the robbery suspect had gotten into.”

Police added, “The vehicle’s occupants, a family of five, was not involved in the robbery. The juvenile victim, a rear-seat passenger, was struck during the shooting. The shooter was subsequently arrested and charged in this incident. The unknown robbery suspect remains at large.” Officials called the shooting “tragic and senseless.”

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Houston Police Called It an ‘Unfortunate, Tragic Scene That Started Out as a Robbery’

Houston Police Executive Chief Matt Slinkard said at the scene, “We’re out here tonight at what is an unfortunate, tragic, scene that started out as a robbery. … At about 9:43 p.m., an individual was in the drive-thru of the ATM making a transaction. … An unknown suspect walked up on foot to that individual who was performing an ATM transaction and robbed that individual at gunpoint.” Slinkard said the robbery suspect then fled from the scene.

“The complainant of that robbery then got out of the vehicle and engaged in gunfire with the suspect. At this time we do not know if the robbery suspect returned fire. But we know that the complainant from the robbery began to fire at the suspect who had just robbed him,” Slinkard said. “Unfortunately, and tragically, as a vehicle was driving down eastbound on Winkler toward Woodridge, this vehicle, which was apparently not involved in this incident at all and was simply driving down Winkler Street, and one of those rounds struck the back window of that pickup truck.”

He said the victim, a 9-year-old girl, was in the back seat of the pickup truck. “She was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital where she is in critical condition.” Slinkard said homicide detectives were interviewing the man who fired his gun after he was robbed. Slinkard said the man didn’t know that one of his rounds had hit the truck and the girl, and left the scene. He called police to report the robbery, according to Slinkard.

Slinkard said the incident remains under investigation. Houston Police said, “Anyone with information in either this case or the robbery which preceded it is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers.” No information about the suspect in the robbery has been released by police.

‘I Want to Ask This Entire City, I Want to Ask Everybody to Stop What You Are Doing to Pray for This Family & Pray for This 9-Year-Old Girl’

Executive Chief Slinkard said at the scene, “I want to ask this entire city. I want to ask everybody hearing the sound of my voice to stop whatever you’re doing and pray for this family. And pray for this 9-year-old girl who is in critical condition. This is an unbelievably tragic event.” He said Arlene’s family was at the hospital with her after the shooting.

Slinkard said, “It just goes to show anytime there’s guns involved the danger to innocent bystanders is extremely high. Please, everyone, just pray for this innocent child. This innocent victim. Lift up your voices, your thoughts and your hearts in prayer as we go through this investigation.”

The victim is the second 9-year-old to be shot in Houston in a week. Ashanti Grant was injured in a shooting believed to be tied to a road rage incident on February 8. Grant remains hospitalized and a $30,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the suspect, according to Houston officials.

Police say Ashanti was in her family’s car as they went to the grocery store about 9 p.m. in the 9800 block of the Southwest Freeway when another driver, in a white GMC Denali, cut off her family’s vehicle several times. The driver then got behind her family’s car and began firing shots.

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