SAN ANTONIO – Cynthia Ruiz, a widow and a single mother, said she collapsed when San Antonio police notified her the next day that her 19-year-old son, Andrew Herrera, had been shot and killed during an attempted robbery.
The botched robbery happened on Dec. 7 at a Popeyes Chicken in the 800 block of Southeast Military Drive.
“Did my son deserve to be punished? Yes, he did,” Ruiz said.
Police said Herrera, wearing a hoodie and a mask, entered the South Side restaurant with gun and confronted a man and his family who were eating.
After the man told Herrera he had spent the money he had on their dinner, Herrera turned toward the counter and pointed the gun at one of the workers, who was running away.
That’s when the man, who had a concealed handgun license, fired several shots at Herrera.
A police spokesman later said, “Here in Texas, if you’re in fear of loss of life, loss of property, you have a right to defend yourself.”
Ruiz said she understands the man who shot her son was defending his family, but she asked, “Why shoot him four more times? Why did he shoot him five times?”
Herrera’s mother said she wants to see surveillance video, to see what happened.
Police on Thursday would not say whether any video exists.
Ruiz said the man had no way of knowing what she later was told by a second suspect, the alleged getaway driver: “The gun wasn’t even loaded.”
The San Antonio Police Department would not confirm the claim.
Ruiz said her son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a child, and in 2016 he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
She said he had stopped taking his medications three weeks before the shooting.
Ruiz said her son had told her, “What is life? Being on medicine all the time and I’m sleeping? I’m missing life.”
After that, Ruiz said, she eventually began questioning what he was up to, and why he was bringing home money when he didn't have a job.
SAPD believes Herrera may have been involved in other robberies.
“If you have money from whatever you’re doing, you can take that money and find a place to live,” Ruiz said.
He returned two days later, the day he was killed, but then had to leave.
“I said, ‘Hurry up and come home. We have to decorate the tree,’” Ruiz said.
As he was leaving, Ruiz said her son said, “I love you, Mom.”
Given her suspicions, Ruiz said, “I asked him, ‘Do you?’”
“‘Mom, I love you to the moon and back.’ And, I told him, ‘I love you to infinity and beyond,'’’ Ruiz said, because her son loved the movie “Toy Story.”
Four hours later, she said, her son was dead.
Ruiz said she’s heard nothing from SAPD since the shooting, but a spokeswoman said the department could not release any other information because it’s still an active investigation.
The second suspect, 18-year-old Trevon Atkinson, was arrested the next day and is charged with aggravated robbery.