Clerk Kills Thief Who Fled With Beer: Police

Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009  |  Updated 10:13 AM CDT
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Clerk Kills Thief Who Fled With Beer: Police

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A 23-year-old clerk at an Austin convenience store was jailed Tuesday on a murder charge after the fatal shooting of a suspect in a beer theft.

Juan Hector Romero was in the Travis County Jail on $250,000 bail. Electronic jail records had no indication of an attorney for Romero, who was arrested hours after Sunday's fatal shooting.

Investigators say Romero is charged with pursuing and shooting 22-year-old Jorge Luis Vielma, who allegedly dashed out of the store carrying a 12-pack of beer.

Austin police say Vielma was shot while in the parking lot and his body was later discovered in a vehicle discovered abandoned miles away from the store.

Sgt. Joseph Chacon says a grand jury will decide if it was reasonable to shoot and kill a person over some beer.

A sign taped to the door of the store said: "Due to the high number of dishonest people grabbing and running away (and) stealing our beer, we must require prepayment for beer."

The Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday that investigators say the clerk did not call police to report the theft or the shooting, he allegedly tampered with the security video and tossed the discarded beer into a trash bin.

A man who was with Vielma and allegedly made the 911 call to report the shooting was detained, but did not immediately face charges.

Store owner Jose Carranza said Romero was not authorized to use deadly force and the businessman says firearms are not kept at the location.

Carranza says his store has been a theft target at least 10 times this year and his clerks were robbed, at gunpoint, four times in the past two years.

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