Texas car thieves die in separate shootouts with rightful owners

Police Line / Police Tape" by Tony Webster is marked with CC BY 2.0 DEED.

Police in San Antonio, Texas say a man who stole a vehicle was shot and killed by the car’s rightful owner after he pointed a gun of his own at the armed citizen.


SAPD Chief William McManus calls the incident “certainly a case of self-defense,” adding ‘”we would prefer that they call the police before taking that into your own hands, but he did what he felt he needed to do.”

That would include tracking down his stolen car in the first place. It’s still unclear how the armed citizen found his car, but authorities say he caught up to the car thief in the parking lot of the South Park Mall around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon. When the car’s owner spotted his vehicle, the thief was behind the wheel with a woman in the passenger seat, and the armed citizen drew his firearm to hold them there while he called 911.

Two minutes after reporting the theft to police, McManus said the suspected car thief pulled a gun from his waistband and shot the legal owner of the vehicle, who returned fire.

The suspected car thief was killed in the exchange, and the owner of the vehicle and the female passenger, who is connected to the alleged thief, were both injured and transported to a local hospital. McManus said the woman is in critical condition and the vehicle owner is in stable condition.

At an afternoon press conference McManus reiterated that the car’s owner “had every right to track his vehicle down”, and reiterated that the armed citizen shot to protect his life, not in an act of aggression.


This isn’t the first defensive gun use we’ve covered recently involving nearly identical situations. In fact, it’s not even the first story of this kind from San Antonio. A similar incident took place back in April when the owner of a stolen truck used his Apple AirTag to track down its location, only to be fired upon by the suspected car thief.

Another similar situation played out in Harris County, Texas just hours before the defensive gun use in San Antonio, where authorities say another suspected car thief was shot and killed by the rightful owner early Thursday morning.

According to investigators, the car was stolen from an apartment complex on Louetta near Ella around 4 a.m. Thursday.

They said the car owner called 911 and told authorities that he and his girlfriend were following his stolen Dodge Charger in a Lexus. They said they were getting shot at and firing shots back at the person in his car.

Investigators said the 19-year-old driving the Charger was shot several times and came to a stop along Louetta near Holzwarth, about 3 miles away from the complex from which the car was taken.

When authorities got to the scene, they found the Charger riddled with bullet holes and the alleged car thief dead.


This case isn’t quite as cut and dried as the DGU in San Antonio, at least based on the comments by a Harris County Sheriff’s official.

“Obviously … you’re firing weapons while you’re driving down the roadway. Law enforcement is not allowed to do that. You’re endangering other people, and ‘is it worth the person’s life to recover your stolen vehicle?’ is the question people need to ask themselves,” Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ben Beall said.

If the armed citizen who was following the car thief was the only one firing shots, then Beall’s point would be stronger. But according to police the driver called 911 to report the location of his vehicle, and only fired back at the suspect after he was shot at first. You could argue that the car’s rightful owner could and should have dropped back and let the guy get away, but at that point he’s already shown himself to be a dangerous and deadly threat. Still, as Beall notes, the shots fired by the armed citizen could be deemed endangerment by prosecutors or a grand jury, so we’ll be keeping our eyes out for any updates to this incident.

Given the increasing frequency of these incidents, however, I think the real question that needs to be asked isn’t the query posed by Beall, but rather “is it worth my life to steal this ride?” In all three of the situations outlined above, the suspected car thieves were the first to allegedly open fire, which lead directly to their deaths. Honestly, given the state of our criminal justice system, the smartest thing for these thieves to do is pull over, cooperate, and get taken into custody. Odds are they’ll be back out on the street in no time. Start shooting at the rightful owner of the vehicle you stole, on the other hand, and you’re likely to end up in the morgue instead of a holding cell for a few hours.


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