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Movie Theater Robbery

BB gun robbery attempt at a popular Houston movie theater turns into a real police shooting

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Edwards Theater Grand Palace neon sign at night
A movie date erupted in violence when an off-duty cop shot two teenagers during an alleged robbery attempt. Photo by Miguel M./Foursquare.com

A late-night movie date erupted in violence this weekend when an off-duty cop shot two young robbery suspects armed with what investigators believe was a "realistic looking" BB gun.

Just after midnight early Sunday morning, Houston police officer J. Johnson and his girlfriend were walking to the Edwards Greenway Plaza multiplex when a silver sedan approached at Weslayan and Portsmouth. KHOU Ch. 11 reports that the couple thought the three teenagers inside simply needed directions.

But when the vehicle stopped, authorities say that Ruben Zelaya pointed what appeared to be a pistol at Johnson from the front passenger's window and demanded his girlfriend's purse. The off-duty cop, who was wearing plainclothes at the time, fired his HPD gun at the 17-year-old suspect and at the car as it sped away.

The teenaged trio soon arrived Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital where they were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Zelaya and another accomplice were treated for non life-threatening gunshot wounds, while the third suspect was unharmed.

Investigators later recovered "a realistic looking BB pistol" several blocks from the movie theater.

As is standard protocol when an officer uses his or her weapon, the case will be investigated by HPD's homicide and internal affairs departments as well as by the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Neither Johnson, a police officer since 2008, nor his girlfriend were injured during the botched BB gun robbery attempt.

Watch KHOU Ch. 11's report:

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