Liquor store clerk in Leander fatally shoots theft suspect; mother of suspect speaks out

Leander police say they're investigating after a liquor store employee fatally shot a man he suspected of stealing from his store.

It started with an emergency call on Wednesday, May 31 around 9 p.m. from Leander Liquors in the 2400 block of S. Hwy 183.

Police say officers were told that three people had removed bottles from the store and left without paying prompting the clerk to open fire.

A short time later, Cedar Park police responded to a report of someone suffering from gunshot wounds in the 1700 block of N. Bell Boulevard, about 1.5 miles away from the store.

Police ay the man, 22-year-old Johnny Cabrera, matched the description of one of the theft suspects.

He died while being transported to St. David's Round Rock Medical Center.

Police say at this point, no charges have been filed. Once the investigation in complete, the information will be presented to the Williamson County District Attorney's Office to consider for any possible charges.

Police say they're still looking into any interactions leading up to the shooting and if anyone else was armed. They're also asking for witnesses and anyone with video evidence to come forward.

"Leander Police Department values the sanctity of life, and the safety of everybody in our community. We take all investigations seriously especially if it involves the loss of life," Lt. Ben Girdler with Leander Police said.

Cabrera's mother, Cassandra Barnett, shares how she felt after getting the news of her son's death.

"I was really sad. Sad and empty. It really was a shock," she said.

She says this is how she remembers him.

"He was really sweet. He loved helping people. He was really sweet, nice, helpful, friendly. He was liked by a lot of people, especially his high school friends," she said.

She was proud of him for graduating high school but noticed a change in his mentality over the past couple of years.

"He witnessed a couple of his friends get murdered. From that, he just made a whole turn. I think he didn't know how to handle it mentally. And then just got caught up with the wrong people," she said. "I noticed it over the past couple of years, the crowd that he was around, they kind of made - it was a huge influence. They influenced him in doing things that he doesn't do, like with the incident that happened that got him killed. That's not Johnny. That's not Johnny. He was always working."


Barnett says she thinks things went too far.

"I don't think it should have ended with someone being killed, whether it was my son or somebody else's, especially if they didn't have weapons themselves or they didn't go in there making threats, like it's a bottle of liquor. It can be replaced. I feel that there should have been other steps taken, like taking a picture of the license plate or even just calling the cops immediately after and giving descriptions, things like that. But I don't think that anybody should have been shot." she said. "I'm not saying what he did, if he did do what they're saying, I'm not saying that was right, but I feel, no, he didn't deserve that. He did not. He was only 22. He had so much more to live for." 

FOX 7 has reached out to the liquor store for comment and has not heard back.

Anyone with information related to this incident is urged to contact Detective Carlos Villarreal at 512-528-2811 or