Man Resumed Date After Killing ‘Scammer’ Over $40, Police Say

When a man who was out on a date in Houston found out he had been duped out of $40 by someone pretending to be a parking attendant, he ran out of the restaurant, fatally shot the scammer and then “nonchalantly” returned, the authorities said.

The man, Erick Aguirre, 29, was arrested on Tuesday in Aransas County, north of Corpus Christi, Texas, and charged with murder in the death of Elliot Nix, 46, on April 11. He was extradited to Harris County, where he was arraigned on Thursday and jailed on a $200,000 bond, according to court records.

Brent Mayr, a lawyer for Mr. Aguirre, declined to comment on Friday.

According to a charging document, Mr. Aguirre was going out to eat on April 11 with Melanie Castillo, who said in a voluntary statement that she and Mr. Aguirre were dating.

They drove separately to Rodeo Goat, a hamburger restaurant east of downtown Houston. After they parked, a man approached them and said that parking would cost $20 for each vehicle, but that their money would be reimbursed if they presented a receipt from their meal, according to the court document. Mr. Aguirre paid the man, and the couple went to Rodeo Goat.

But when they arrived at the restaurant, a worker there told the couple that the man was “a scammer” and that he did not work for the parking lot, the charging document said. Ms. Castillo said in her statement to the police that Mr. Aguirre then “sprinted to his car” as she waited on the street in front of the restaurant.

Jacob Ray, a witness who works at a smoke shop down the street from Rodeo Goat, told the police that he saw Mr. Aguirre run to his vehicle and pull out a pistol, according to the court document. Mr. Ray told the police that Mr. Aguirre then ran out of his view but that he heard a gunshot, and then saw Mr. Aguirre “nonchalantly walking back to his car with the gun in his hand,” according to the charging document. Mr. Ray told the police that he saw Mr. Aguirre put the gun back in his vehicle and return to Rodeo Goat, according to court documents.

It was unclear what kind of firearm Mr. Aguirre had or whether he had purchased it legally. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a sweeping law in 2021 allowing most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license.

Ms. Castillo said that she did not see or hear what Mr. Aguirre was doing after he ran off. She told investigators that he returned a short time later and said that he had “just scared the guy” and “everything was fine,” the charging document said.

Mr. Aguirre and Ms. Castillo then went inside the restaurant and were almost at their table when she said that he looked uncomfortable and suggested that they go somewhere else to eat, according to the charging document.

The Houston Police Department said in a statement that its officers responded to reports of a shooting in the area that night, and that they later found Mr. Nix unresponsive with a gunshot wound to the right side of his upper back. Mr. Nix was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, the police said.

Ms. Castillo was interviewed by the police two days after the shooting and a day after the police released surveillance photos of her and Mr. Aguirre that identified them as people of interest wanted for questioning in the shooting. She was released with no charges being filed against her.

Rick DeToto, a lawyer for Ms. Castillo, said that she was “shocked to see a photo of herself on the news and to hear that she was a person of interest.”

“She was devastated to learn of the death,” Mr. DeToto said. “She was simply having dinner with the defendant and was unaware of the shooting.”

Mr. Aguirre’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 27.

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