Elmhurst

Queens Husband and Wife Gunned Down in Shooting at Houston Aquarium Restaurant

Sources told the NBC affiliate in Houston that the suspect had been sitting at the bar drinking by himself for hours before shooting at the couple

NBC Universal, Inc.

A couple that was shot while at dinner inside a Texas aquarium, leaving the husband dead and wife injured, was from Queens, police confirmed.

Investigators said 29-year-old Gabriel Vargas and his 24-year-old wife were wrapping up their dinner at the bar inside the Houston Downtown Aquarium Thursday night, when security video showed a man at the opposite side of the bar start making his way over quickly to them.

"That suspect at that time immediately started firing rounds," Houston Police Chief Matt Stinkard said.

The man, later identified as 39-year-old Danny Cazares, shot and killed Vargas and shot the wife in the leg. The gunman soon after turned the gun on himself.

Elaine Khalil was having dinner with her family at the aquarium restaurant, when all of a sudden she and her family were forced to hide in a closet.

"When we were in that closet, I thought this would really be a pathetic way to die," Khalil said.

Cazares had a lengthy criminal history, and was out on bond for another incident at another bar. In that instance, police said they found him with a loaded pistol. Court documents show a family member called police to say he was “high on meth” at the bar.

Houston police confirmed Cazares did not know his victims, and that he had a history of mental illness. Sources told the NBC affiliate in Houston that the suspect had been sitting at the bar drinking by himself for hours before shooting at the couple.

Back in the couple's neighborhood of Elmhurst, those who knew the pair said they had just recently gotten married. Now the wife will return home without her husband. She told a neighbor that there was no altercation that led up to this crime.

"This is the type of situation that should make us all pause and send out as many prayers as we can for all of the families and all the lives that will be affected," Slinkard said.

Contact Us