Tampa, Florida

From TampaBays10.com of July 3, 2007

Store owner takes law into his own hands

It was like something out of the Wild West for Deborah Beal as she watched the owner of this Kwik Stop food store chasing an armed robber up her street.

Deborah Beal, Witnessed Shooting

“I was talking to my dad on the phone and I was like that’s not fireworks, he’s shooting him. I was thinking this is crazy. ”

Police say the two robbers had force the store owner at gunpoint to the ground and were on their way out after stealing money and ripping off the stores surveillance system, but apparently the owner didn’t plan on going down without a fight.

Andrea Davis, Tampa Police

“The store clerk got up, grabbed his gun, came out of the store, and yelled at them to stop. One of the males turned around pointed the gun at the store clerk and said, ‘I will shoot you.’ At that point, the store clerk did shoot the bad guy. ”

Bullets and evidence markers litter the area, as police try to piece it all together. They recovered two guns. The owner managed to wrestle the robbers [sic] away and hold him for police. 18-year-resident, Victoria Schmidt, couldn’t believe what she was watching.

Victoria Schmidt, Witnessed Shooting

“The man who shot the other man forced him at gunpoint to get back over into the property over there and then man who was shot was screaming for an ambulance. ”

Beal says the store has had many problems. This time the owner sent a strong message, one she is applauding

Deborah Beal, Witnessed Shooting

“I’m glad they got him. I’m really glad because the store has been hit, they’ve had a pick up truck driven through the front door, they had people come through the roof, and they’ve ad all the phone and electric lines cut, not long ago actually. I’m glad they finally got somebody. ”

Police say it looks like this was a case of self defense and it doesn’t immediately look like Saed will face charges. Investigators are looking for the second robber who fled in a maroon Ford Taurus.

From the St. Petersburg Times of July 4, 2007

Merchant shoots robbery suspect

The store owner holds the man at gunpoint until the police arrive.

A shop owner who had just been robbed chased two men down a South Tampa street Tuesday, shooting one and holding him at gunpoint until police arrived.

Police are still investigating the shooting, which injured Clifford Darden, 48, one of the men accused in the robbery.

“They were robbing him, ” police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said of the shop owner’s actions. “He did fear for his life.”

Just before 2 p.m., two men walked into a Kwik Stop Food Store at West Shore Boulevard and Ohio Avenue.

One ordered a sandwich, then he walked behind the counter and pulled out a gun.

The robber demanded money from the shop owner, who opened two cash registers. The second robber joined the first, and both men grabbed cash, said Davis. The men also took lottery tickets and snatched surveillance equipment.

They ran outside, heading east on Ohio Avenue. The shop owner chased them, gun in hand, Davis said. One, described as a black man about 200 pounds, 5 foot 9 to 5 foot 10 inches tall, wearing a red shirt, jacket and ball cap, got into a maroon Ford Taurus with tinted windows and disappeared.

The shop owner, whose name was not released, shot at the second man. Neighbors heard between four and six shots. Police said Darden had bullet wounds in his arm and abdomen.

The shop owner told police that as he ran after the robber, the man paused, turned toward him and pointed a gun. The shop owner shot him, then tried to get the robber’s gun. The two wrestled on the grass between two parked cars, and the shop owner got the gun and told the robber not to move until police arrived.

Once investigators arrived, Darden was taken to Tampa General Hospital. His condition was unavailable. He will be booked into the Hillsborough County jail once he is treated, Davis said.

Darden is a mason with a Miami address, state records show. He has been arrested eight times in Florida, beginning in 1986, when he was convicted of marijuana smuggling in Miami, records show. In 1994, he was convicted of robbery with a firearm in Marion County.

His most recent arrest was in 1994 for violating probation.

Tuesday afternoon, Fuad Salem, 27, watched police examine the scene. He said his cousin was the shop owner.

“He was by himself in the store, ” Salem said. “They had the gun right against his head.”

Victoria Schmidt, 51, who lives across the street from the shop, heard the shots and thought it was a car backfiring. She looked out her front window and watched the shop owner and Darden struggle on the ground.

“I’ve never seen anyone being shot before, ” she said. “He could barely walk.”

She saw blood running down Darden’s leg and heard him yell, “Get me an ambulance!”

Schmidt said she often sees suspicious behavior in the area, and has found baggies of drugs on her front lawn.

Police records show seven calls for service to the shop since October 2004, including two burglaries and a shooting into an occupied building.

Deborah Beal, 52, watched it all unfold. A self-proclaimed “nosy neighbor, ” she has a police scanner and watches Ohio Avenue from her front window.

She said she saw a green Lexus drive by slowly out front, then saw three men running down the street.

Then, she said, she saw the shop owner shoot the man.

“He was shooting him as he was running after him, ” she said.

So is a shop owner allowed to chase down and harm a robber?

It’s a subject that lawyer John Fitzgibbons knows much about.

He represented Lawrence Storer, a Thai restaurant owner accused of hitting and killing Shantavious Wilson, 24, with his Ford Explorer after Wilson robbed him at gunpoint at his downtown Tampa restaurant.

Fitzgibbons said it’s a tricky area of law, and much depends on the facts of a case, but communities are often sympathetic to store owners protecting themselves from robbers. Quick, emotional decisions can also be a reason for the action to be considered justifiable.

“When you cause the death or the injury in the heat of passion, that can be a defense, ” he said.


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