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Police say man continued date after fatal shooting over $40

This undated mugshot provided by the Houston Police Department shows Erick Aguirre, who was charged with murder in the April 11, 2023, death of 46-year-old Elliot Nix. Authorities allege the Texas man paused his dinner date to fatally shoot Nix, who had allegedly posed as a parking attendant and scammed him out of $40. (Houston Police Department via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas man has been accused by authorities of pausing his dinner date to fatally shoot an individual who had allegedly posed as a parking attendant and scammed him out of $40, according to court records.

Erick Aguirre has been charged with murder in the April 11 death of 46-year-old Elliot Nix.

During a court hearing on Thursday, Aguirre’s bond was set at $200,000. His attorney, Brent Mayr, declined to comment.

Police say Aguirre, 29, and his date had parked their vehicles near a downtown Houston 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. and then saw Aguirre “nonchalantly walking back to his car with the gun in his hand” before putting the gun back in his car and walking back across the street to the restaurant and going inside with his date, according to the affidavit. Nix was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

Aguirre’s date later told police she did not see or hear what he had done and was only told by Aguirre that “he had just scared the guy and everything was fine,” according to the affidavit.

Aguirre’s date said the couple then started walking to their table but they left and ate at another restaurant after Aguirre looked uncomfortable and suggested they go someplace else, according to the affidavit.

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 told KPRC.

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 addressgetting into the wrong car or going into a neighbor’s yard to retrieve a basketball — devolved into shootings.