It reads like a story straight out of the Wild West. A gang of masked robbers swapping out horses, robbing stores at gunpoint, the sheriff and his deputies hot on their trail.
According to police in Houston, their department faced just such a scenario Thursday when officers tracked, confronted, and opened fire at a gang of five robbery suspects accused of wild crime spree across the city of Houston that ended in a violent confrontation outside a furniture store they were suspected of having just robbed.
The shootout between the criminal gang ended in with two of the accused dead and two injured, police said.
Police spokesman John Cannon said five police officers fired their weapons but that none was injured in the incident late Thursday.
The gang members apparently thought they were outsmarting police and getting away with their crimes. But it turns out a tactical team had been monitoring the group following a series of robberies earlier in the day.
One injured suspect was taken to a hospital with an undisclosed injury. Another was treated by paramedics at the scene then taken into custody, along with another suspect who was not hurt, Cannon said.
“Officers discharged their weapons either because the suspects pointed weapons at them or they were fearful suspects were running toward other businesses, which had citizens in them,” Cannon said.
Two guns belonging to the suspects were recovered at the scene, and Cannon said officers were searching the area but didn’t believe there are other suspects.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Cannon said the men had been on a crime spree throughout the day and were changing vehicles to evade capture, and that police lost sight of them for a while before catching up with the group as they exited the Affordable Furniture store Thursday night.
Taj Ali, the owner of Affordable Furniture, told the newspaper that an employee who was inside during the holdup said the gunmen were wearing masks. She said one pointed a gun and asked if the store had a safe.
“She didn’t have the key and we don’t keep any money in it,” Ali said. “Then, one of them hollered, ‘Let’s go,’ and that was the end of the story.”
The furniture store, located on an access road near Interstate 45 in northern Houston, was open at the time of the robbery. The suspect who was not hurt had posed as a store employee and tried to hide in a truck parked in front of the business, Cannon said.
One of the suspects was wearing an ankle monitor, but Cannon didn’t have details of his criminal record.
Cannon said it wasn’t immediately clear if the suspects had fired any shots, and said the group was already suspected in multiple robberies in the area Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.