Cynthia Ruiz knew suffering. As a widow, she had lost the love of her life. But she had no time to wait around and soak in the pain and suffering. She had to pick up the pieces immediately for the sake of her son. Over the ensuing years, she did the best she could, but she was unable to stop her son, 19-year-old Andrew Herrera, from going down the wrong path.

When she received a late-night call from the San Antonio Police Department, her world collapsed around her. The cops told her that her teenage son had been shot and killed by an armed person the previous night. Apparently, Andrew had tried to rob a Popeyes Chicken restaurant on the 800 block of Southeast Military Drive when someone took out their gun and repeatedly shot the teen until he was dead.

“Did my son deserve to be punished? Yes, he did,” she said. Did he deserve to die? No.

Over the phone, San Antonio police told the grieving mother that her son allegedly entered the restaurant wearing a hoodie and a mask. He was supposedly armed with a gun and confronted a man and his family who were eating at the establishment.

The man had told Herrera that he no longer had any money with him because he had spent it all at the chicken joint to feed his family. From the side of his vision, Herrera noticed a Popeyes employee dashing for safety. He panicked and pivoted and held the gun on that fleeing employee. This proved to be a fatal mistake.

Since Herrera had his back turned, the man removed his concealed weapon and fired it at Herrera until the 19-year-old was disarmed and apparently dead. Because the armed citizen had a license to carry a concealed weapon, he was trained to use it in situations like this.

“Here in Texas, if you’re in fear of loss of life, loss of property, you have a right to defend yourself,” a police spokesperson said.

The whole story was heartbreaking for Ruiz. After losing her husband, she had struggled to keep her son on a good path. Although she knew that her boy had problems, she did not think the man had to murder him in the chicken joint. Why didn’t he just disable him and then let the police finish the job with handcuffs?

“Why shoot him four more times?” the grieving mother asked of the man with the gun. “Why did he shoot him five times?”

Now the mother who has lost everything of value in her life wants to see the chicken joint’s surveillance footage. Did the armed man tell the truth, or had he gotten a kick out of shooting the frantic teenager in the back five times? Police have not been forthcoming with the victim’s mother. They have not even confirmed if surveillance footage of the murder exists.

Later, the second suspect in the robbery told her that “the gun wasn’t even loaded.” The man who was protecting his family could not have known that.

Ruiz explained that her son had mental health issues ever since he was young. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a child and schizophrenia in 2016. The combination was very challenging for him. And he stopped taking his medication three weeks before he was murdered.

The mother said that he had told her, “What is life? Being on medicine all the time and I’m sleeping? I’m missing life.”

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