The Argueta family — 19-year-old Joe, his father Luis, mother Florinda and uncle Margarito Alcantar — claimed they were tired of their house in a suburban enclave west of Houston being vandalized. So, they set up a plot to “take care” of the situation. But instead of dealing with the person committing the crime, they are now accused of shooting and murdering an innocent neighbor they didn’t know, 29-year-old Black man Eddie Clark.
Tim Elfrink of The Washington Post has reported that the family believed a friend of Joe’s ex-girlfriend had been vandalizing their house and cars. Instead of calling the police, the family concocted a plan to confront the would-be suspect, who they believed drove a black Dodge Charger.
According to a police report filed in the case, the family decided to stay up all night and wait for the car. When they spotted Clark’s dark grey Dodge Challenger driving down the street, they went into action and drove their own vehicles out into the road in an attempt to block its path.
When Clark saw the blocked road, police records say he at first paused until Joe Argueta ran up to the vehicle with a gun in his hand. Alcantar approached from the other side, holding a bat.
Sensing he was now in danger, Clark attempted to flee the scene, pulling into a neighbor’s lawn and attempting to drive away. As Clark’s car sped off, Argueta allegedly began firing at the vehicle until it eventually crashed into a tree.
“Clark managed to jump out and run away, but soon collapsed. He was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he died from a gunshot wound,” Elfrink reported.
According to Houston’s KHOU-11 News, when police officers apprehended Joe Argueta at the scene of the alleged murder, he “told investigators [Clark] was the person armed with the gun and [Joe Argueta] fired multiple shots at the vehicle when the driver tried to leave.”
Argueta was detained, questioned and has now been charged with murder. The rest of his family has also been charged; his mother has been arrested, but his father and uncle are still at large.
Ignoring the troubling racist aspects of the case, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has simply called the tragic story a case of “mistaken identity.”
In a hearing, a Houston court officer admonished Joe Argueta, saying “This is an example of taking the law into your own hands. Not going through the proper authorities to resolve any other harm or destruction that was being done to your own residence or your own home. It still doesn’t justify taking the law into your own hands and mistaking the person.”
Little has been reported so far on the life of the man who was horrifically killed in the case. In a statement, the Harris County Sheriff’s office wrote: “The victim, Eddie Clark, lived in the Westminster Village Subdivision, and was on his way home when he was confronted by the Arguetas. Eddie Clark was driving a dark gray Dodge Challenger, not a black Dodge Charger. Eddie Clark was not known by the Arguetas, and investigators did not receive any information that Eddie Clark was involved in the ongoing dispute.”