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Intervening in Robberies

Generally speaking, I don’t think it’s a good idea. This guy in Texas tried to get out of the store, but found the doors locked. Once locked in, he drew and started a gunfight with the robbers, accidentally killing the clerk with a stray bullet. Without knowing the specific circumstances, I can’t speak on whether this was an unwise action or not. If the robbers saw his attempt to leave and attempted to claim physical control over him, he might not have had much of a choice. I would not allow an armed robber to exercise physical control over me if I were armed. A wise move might have been hiding in the aisles and forcing the robbers to come looking for you, which would distract their attention away from the clerk and give you an opportunity to engage without the clerk being in the line-of-fire. Even locked in a store, if the robbers are not trying to exercise physical control over you, I think the best option is to hunker down, call 911 if you can, and let things go down. Chances are the robbers are taking the till and running, and you don’t owe any store clerk what you’ll go through if you have to shoot someone.

25 Responses to “Intervening in Robberies”

  1. Freiheit says:

    “A wise move might have been hiding in the isles”, with a pool boy and an umbrella drink. Much safer.

  2. asdf says:

    Notice the last line, where the story explains that the CHL shooter could still be sued, even if he’s cleared in the shooting? That is fucking just plain absurd. And on what planet would it even be possible to even consider criminal charges against the CHL holder? If you have to go through this much bullshit when the circumstances so thoroughly point to a clear-cut case of self-defense, what hope do most of us have in the more typical case of he said, she said?

    It doesn’t even look like he had any choice in the matter. The robbers locked the door.

    I give up. I’m just going to let the robbers kill me next time.

  3. -JD- says:

    “and you don’t owe any store clerk what you’ll go through if you have to shoot someone.”

    “Owe” I guess no, and certainly not to save the till. But what is happening to the clerk? I may owe it to myself not to stand by and watch while the clerk is liquidated to eliminate a witness.

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s a choice we all have to make, but doing the right thing doesn’t mean society will treat you like you did the right thing.

  4. I have to say, that even if he were fighting with the robbers. If he shot and killed the clerk in the process, that’s an accidental homicide.

    And that should be a conviction. You still need to know your target and what’s behind it. Now if he was immediately being shot at, than I think there is a lot of discretion as to what the sentencing should be.

    Best case is to put yourself in a position where the robbers will be in line of sight but no other targets will. That said, it can be hard to do in a small convenience store.

    • asdf says:

      What kind of backwards thinking leads you to conclude that the CHL holder should be convicted of anything at all? *If* it happened as the story presents it, he tried to escape through a locked door, they advanced on him, and he had a split-second to draw and fire on them before they could kill him.

      There is not a hint of negligence, let alone criminal negligence, in his actions. The robbers, and only the robbers, should face charges for the clerk’s death, even though they didn’t fire the fatal shot.

      • SPQR says:

        The robbers are criminally responsible for the clerk’s death under the felony murder rule.

        But that does not mean that the CHL holder did not act recklessly or negligently. With this story, its hard to see that he did but news stories are seldom reliable.

        • HSR47 says:

          You said it yourself: the robbers are criminally responsible for the death of the clerk.

          If they had not decided to rob the store, the clerk would still be alive. Ergo, they are at fault.

          While it’s likely that the armed citizen fired the bullet that killed the clerk, he was only required to discharge his pistol TO DEFEND HIS LIFE from the felonious antics of the robbers.

          Again, had THEY not held up the store, the clerk wouldn’t have died.

    • DevsAdvocate says:

      CHL to robbers: HEY GUYS, CAN YOU STEP OVER 2 FEET SO I CAN SHOOT YOU WITHOUT KILLING THE CLERK? KTHXBYE!

    • J.D. Kinman says:

      This is absolute bullshit.

      First off, it would be manslaughter at the most. Second, we have the ability to defend ourselves in Texas via our castle doctrine laws. Third, the resulting actions (and death) of the clerk were the direct result of felonious, premeditated behavior on part of the robber–not the CHL holder, who was in legally defined fear of his life.

      “And should be a conviction?” Again, absolute bullshit.

      Just more Monday morning quarterback attempts from keyboard experts of the same type who judge and “critique” military and LE operations even though the keyboard expert has zilch experience in such matters.

      “Best case is to put yourself. . .” yeah, right. Best case is to not have these animals running around LOCKING DOORS WHILE THEY ROB BUSINESSES. But that is about as reasonable as “put yourself in a position where the robbers will be in line of sight but no other targets will.”

      Good effing grief. . .

      –JD

  5. Countertop says:

    If they were just taking the till and running, why were the doors locked? Seems to me, that simply slows them down as they try to run outside.

    If I find myself in a store, with locked doors, I am assuming the bad guys mean to commit the most grave levels of harm possible – absent any evidence to the contrary.

  6. Richard says:

    The CHL guy was attempting to escape, not engage-always a good choice. And being outside the store is better evasion than trying to hid inside the store. When his escape attempt was foiled by the locked door (presumably locked by the robbers), he was out in the open, vulnerable and had little choice but to engage. I see no culpability there. As to the other issues, not enough information.

  7. Oranje Mike says:

    I completed an armed guard course in Arizona. The instructor was a retired Phoenix police officer with 20 years on the job (8 of them in SWAT). Based upon what I learned in the course this man would be subject to a manslaughter charge in Arizona. Even if your intent is not to kill or hurt, you are held reliable if you shoot someone that is not the aggressor.

    • Alpheus says:

      This is one aspect of self defense I have not seen discussed on the internet (my primary source for the subject, oh joy!). To what degree should you be held accountable for those who are accidentally shot by a stray bullet, even if you are justified in shooting?

      Indeed, if one robber is holding a hostage, and the other points his gun at you, it would be reasonable to fear for your life…and when you are in a high-stress situation like that, it’s also reasonable to expect your accuracy to go to pot! Would it really be justifiable to let yourself be killed, just because you might hit an innocent bystander?

      And what is the standard for cops? Is it the same? If so, then what should we do in those situations, when cops fire dozens of bullets, and only a handful actually hit the threat? Should all those officers be suspended?

      I would be highly surprised if there isn’t case law, or other law, for that matter, that doesn’t give the benefit of the doubt to the shooter, even if he hits an innocent bystander, at least in certain situations.

      • Alpheus says:

        I should add that, to the extent I’ve seen this discussed, it’s mostly been “why you should prefer a hollow point over ball ammunition, and a shotgun over a rifle, for self defense”, and not “this is what’s going to happen to you if an innocent bystander gets hit!”

        To some degree, I think I’ve always assumed that you wanted to do all in your power to protect innocent bystanders from stray bullets, and a bullet still hit an innocent bystander in a justifiable shooting, it would be legally justifiable, even though it would likely give you nightmares.

      • Oranje Mike says:

        Going back to my course, if I found myself in a hostage situation where I took a shot and killed the hostage, I could and would likely be charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide.

  8. OrangeNeckInNY says:

    Even if the front doors were locked, there should still be a back door. Sneak around and try to get to the storage room entrance, and from there, find the exit door and call police once “safely” outside. If, in the even that the robbers notice you trying to sneak out, that’s when you start shooting, and make sure your aim is as accurate as possible. Having a CHL and a gun is useless if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at. Practice, practice, practice.

    • HSR47 says:

      You do realize that in many convenience stores the door to the back is behind the counter?

  9. Joel C says:

    Alpheus, if a police officer had fired the shots in a situation like this I suspect, though I don’t know it for certain, that he/she would enjoy the benefits of some kind of “Qualified Immunity.”

    You and I don’t get anything like that even if the only alternative was to die; none that I know of anyway, and that’s kind of a damn shame.

  10. Alien says:

    I’m curious – anyone know what the locking mechanism was which rendered the doors unable to be opened? If it was a simple thumb-turn then, even though it would present a delay in exiting, it should be able to be defeated and escape achieved. If, however, a key was involved, or the robbers brought their own locking mechanism (much more likely than finding and using a key from within the store), then it’s reasonable to assume the robbers were preparing for more than simple robbery, which drastically changes the rules, at least so far as survival in a reality situation is concerned, for everyone in the store who is not one of the robbers. (It is possible that the front doors were secured to prevent being interrupted by entering customers – which might reasonably include LEOs or armed citizens – and the robbers planning on exiting via a rear door.)

    As for shooter liability, that will depend on wording of state statutes and case precedents on similar events. Maybe it’s time to re-examine Stand Your Ground laws and add a very limited version of the Qualified Immunity law enforcement enjoys for those circumstances in which Joe or Jane Citizen is facing imminent severe harm or death. Should such a path be chosen, wording will be critical, and I have no doubt no matter how carefully worded there will be a series of court tests conducted.

    • asdf says:

      Or, prosecutors could just do the right thing and hold themselves to the higher standard of ‘justice’, as they are supposedly duty-bound to do, rather than just blindly pressing charges whenever and wherever they can.

      • Nearly Every Damned Prosecutor EVER says:

        What is this “justice” of which you speak? I’ve heard nothing of this! Dammit, I have an election to win!

    • HSR47 says:

      “If it was a simple thumb-turn then, even though it would present a delay in exiting, it should be able to be defeated and escape achieved.”

      Even if it was just a knob-lock, it still would have not only slowed his egress, but forced him to be a stationary target for however long it took him to fumble with the knob.

      As far as I’m concerned, he attempted escape and found himself cornered before he drew, ergo it is a clear-cut case of self defense.

      “…Maybe it’s time to re-examine Stand Your Ground laws and add a very limited version of the Qualified Immunity law enforcement enjoys for those circumstances…”

      Actually, the better way to go about it would be to specifically codify an application of the felony murder rule — thus the armed citizen doesn’t bear legal responsibility because the armed criminal, having constructed the situation, bears responsibility instead.

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