Image: Police officers and detectives investigate shooting in  Houston
Johnny Hanson  /  AP
Police officers and detectives investigate the shooting of three suspected robbers by a jewelry store owner in Houston on Thursday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/17/2010 6:19:45 AM ET 2010-12-17T11:19:45

A jewelry store owner shot and killed three armed men who tried to rob his business, police said.

Two men were in an east Houston jewelry store Thursday afternoon pretending to be customers when a third man entered the store and stated, "This is a robbery," Houston police spokesman Kese Smith said.

All three men pulled out pistols, tied up the owner's wife and took her to a back room, Smith said.

As they were trying to tie up the store owner, the 52-year-old took out a handgun from his waistband and fatally shot one of the suspects, Smith said. He then grabbed a shotgun and shot and killed the two other suspects in the ensuring gunbattle, Smith said.

The Houston Chronicle identified the store owner and his wife as Ramon and Eva Castillo, 48.

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The newspaper said Ramon Castillo was in critical but stable condition at a hospital after suffering gunshot wounds to his left shoulder, left abdomen and legs.

According to the Chronicle, Castillo apparently didn't realize he'd been shot until after he untied his wife.

The woman was unharmed, police said.

'Bullet fragments all over the place'
Houston Police homicide investigator M.F. "Fil" Waters told the newspaper it was difficult to estimate how many shots had been fired during the two- or three-minute span.

"We've got bullet fragments all over the place, casings all over the place, shotgun slugs all over the place, so it's really hard to determine at this point how many rounds were actually fired — but quite a few," Waters added.

"It is a pretty incredible story. The man was clearly defending his business, clearly defending his wife," Waters told the newspaper. "It's amazing with all the bullets flying around in there that she wasn't hit."

Police are looking for a fourth suspect who may have been the getaway driver and was last seen driving a brown or gold-colored vehicle.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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