9-Year-Old Girl Fatally Shot in Houston by Man Pursuing a Robber: 'Now My Daughter's Gone'

Fourth-grader Arlene Álvarez was shot in the head on Valentine's Day evening

Arlene Alvarez
Arlene Álvarez.

Authorities in Houston confirm a 9-year-old girl was fatally shot Monday night as her family made their way to a Valentine's Day dinner.

Arlene Álvarez was in the back of her family's pick-up truck when a bullet, allegedly fired by 41-year-old Tony Earls, entered the vehicle, hitting the little girl.

Earls was in his vehicle Monday evening, withdrawing cash at a drive-up ATM machine, when an unknown individual walked up to the car with a gun, according to Houston Police, who briefed media on the shooting early Tuesday morning.

The man robbed Earls at gunpoint before running away on foot.

Earls allegedly exited his vehicle with his own firearm, and shot several rounds at the suspect.

It was soon after that police allege Earls opened fire on the Álvarez family's truck, believing the suspect had hopped into the vehicle to escape.

Arlene, a fourth-grader, was shot in the head.

She was rushed to the hospital for treatment. On Tuesday, the decision was made to remove her from life support.

Earls has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held on $100,000 bond.

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Earls will stand before a judge Thursday. It was unclear at the time of publishing if he would be facing additional charges in the wake of Arlene's passing.

The little girl's father spoke to KHOU and balked at Earls' alleged claims he fired his weapon in self-defense.

"Now he wants to say it's self-defense. It's not self-defense," said Armando Álvarez. "You don't self-defense when a person is running already two blocks away from you and you're shooting at that person and then you decide to shoot at a truck just because he's passing by at a public street. Now my daughter's gone."

PEOPLE was unable to determine if Earls has entered a plea to the charge against him, or had a lawyer who could speak for him.

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