Arizona: Robbery fails when cab driver grabs gun, bites suspect

August 14, 2009

Chandler, Arizona

From ABC15 of August 14, 2009

Robbery fails when cab driver grabs gun, bites suspect

A cab driver fought back against a man, who tried to rob him at gunpoint on Friday morning, by biting his ear and taking his gun.

Detective David Ramer with the Chandler Police Department said a cab driver pulled into an apartment complex near Dobson and Ocotillo roads around 1 a.m. to drop off his passenger.

As the cab came to a stop, the passenger allegedly pulled a gun on the driver and demanded cash.

Ramer said the cab driver grabbed the suspect’s gun and pulled it down between the front seats, forcing the suspect to lean over the seats closer to the cab driver.

With his hands holding the gun down between the seats, the cab driver reportedly bit the suspect’s ear.

“I almost bit his ear off,” said the cab driver, Mwengi Gachii. “I’m okay because I am always suspicious of people like that.”

The suspect then fired one shot, striking the driver seat of the vehicle and then responded in turn by biting Gachii, according to the police report.

At one point, Gachii says the suspect bit him in the chest. “He was really drunk,” Gachii said.

After a struggle, the suspect fled from the cab. Gachii ran after the suspect while carrying his gun.

After a brief chase, Gachii stopped and called police.

Police were able to catch the alleged robber in the complex.

The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Matthew Mailhot of Chandler, was taken to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries.

Mailhot was booked into the Maricopa County Jail for armed robbery.

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South Carolina: Husband, wife hold off robber until police arrive

August 14, 2009

Charleston, South Carolina

From the SC Now of August 14, 2009

Husband, wife hold off robber until police arrive

An Horry County husband and wife fight off would-be robber inside their business.

According to a press release, a man tried to rob Ron’s Busy Corner, 5709 Juniper Bay Rd, Conway, Thursday afternoon when he placed a knife to the back of the store’s owner.

Police said Roger Lee Green, 34, of Galivants Ferry came into the store and pointed a knife to the back of the store owner while he was sitting at a table.

The owner stood up, struggled with Green, along with a customer, and took the knife away.

The owner’s wife was then able to get a pistol and hold the man there until police arrived.

Green is currently in J. Ruben Long Detention Center charged with Armed Robbery.

New York: Harlem Store Owner Shoots 4 Robbers, Killing 2

August 14, 2009

Harlem, New York

From the New York Times of August 13, 2009

Harlem Store Owner Shoots 4 Robbers, Killing 2

They strode into the restaurant supply store in Harlem shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday, four young men intent on robbery, one with a Glock 9-millimeter pistol, the police said. The place may have looked like an easy mark, a high-cash business with an owner in his 70s, known as a gentle, soft-spoken man.

But Charles Augusto Jr., the 72-year-old proprietor of the Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame Corporation, at 523 West 125th Street, near Amsterdam Avenue, had been robbed several times before, despite the fact that his shop is around the corner from the 26th Precinct station house on West 126th Street.

There were no customers in the store, only Mr. Augusto and two employees, a man and a woman. The police said the invaders announced a holdup, approached the two employees and tried to place plastic handcuffs on them. The male employee, a 35-year-old known in the community as J. B., struggled with the gunman, who then hit him on the head with the pistol.

Watching it happen, Mr. Augusto, whom neighborhood friends call Gus, rose from a chair 20 to 30 feet away and took out a loaded Winchester 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with a pistol-grip handle. The police said he bought it after a robbery 30 years ago.

Mr. Augusto, who has never been in trouble with the law, fired three blasts in rapid succession, the police said, although Vernon McKenzie, working at an Internet company next door, heard only two booms, loud enough to send him rushing to a window, where he heard someone shout: “You’re dead! You’re dead!”

The first shot took down the gunman at the front. He died almost immediately, according to the police, who said he was 29 and had been arrested for gun possession in Queens last year and was the nephew of a police officer.

Mr. Augusto’s other two blasts hit all three accomplices, who stumbled out the door, bleeding.

One of them, a 21-year-old, staggered across 125th Street and collapsed in front of the General Grant Houses, a nine-building complex with 4,500 residents, one of the city’s biggest housing projects. Someone called 911, and an ambulance rushed him to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he was dead on arrival. The police said he had a record of arrests for weapons possession and robbery.

Another wounded man left a blood trail that the police followed to 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The fourth wounded man was picked up, on the basis of witness descriptions, at 128th Street and St. Nicholas Terrace. Both were taken to St. Luke’s.

The names of the men who were shot — two dead and two wounded — were not immediately released by the authorities. The two at the hospital, both 21 years old, were in stable condition late Thursday night, the police said.

(Much more)

From the New York Times of August 14, 2009

Back at Work, Harlem Store Owner Recounts Shooting

A day after shooting four men who tried to rob his restaurant supply store, killing two of them, Charles Augusto Jr., 72, was back at work in Harlem on Friday morning. His feelings the day after he pulled the trigger? “I wish I didn’t need to,” he said.

Mr. Augusto, who goes by Gus, opened the shop, the Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame Corporation, at 523 West 125th Street, near Amsterdam Avenue, at 8 a.m. He was accompanied by an employee who had been hit with a pistol during the robbery Thursday afternoon. After the employee was struck, Mr. Augusto picked up his shotgun and fired it three times.

The shots killed two men, James Morgan, 29, and Raylin Footman, 21, and wounded two others, Bernard Witherspoon and Shamel McCloud, both 21, the police said. The two survivors are being charged with robbery, the police said.

Mr. Augusto said he had bought the gun, a Winchester 12-gauge pump-action with a pistol-grip handle, after a robbery 20 years ago and had a permit for it. “Not even touched in 20 years,” he said. “Not even touched. I wish I didn’t need to.”

The employee, who goes by J. B. and declined to give his last name, said that he “lost my mind” while the robbers tried to restrain him with duct tape, and that when he struggled, he was hit with the pistol. “Better him with a tag on his toe than my mother planning a funeral for me,” he said of the gunman.

Tennessee: ‘Victims’ part of robbery try

August 14, 2009

Memphis, Tennessee

From the Commercial Appeal of August 11, 2009

‘Victims’ part of robbery try

A victim’s tale of robbery and murder unraveled when investigators learned that she’d participated in the stickup that backfired and turned deadly, police said Monday.

Ashley Brannon, 22, has been charged with facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery.

Brannon told police Thursday morning that a man forced his way into the back seat of her 2008 Dodge Avenger about 6:30 a.m. outside the Exxon at 4040 S. Third, pulling a gun and demanding money.

She told officers a friend in the passenger seat, Gregory Mitchell, 18, struggled with the robber, then was shot to death.

But another version of the homicide emerged during the investigation.

According to a police affidavit:

Brannon, boyfriend Calvin Jefferson, Mitchell, and another man, Edgar Smith, 24, spent the early morning hours Thursday gambling, and Smith was seen with “a large amount of money.”

Brannon later drove Mitchell and Smith to the Exxon, ostensibly to get money Brannon’s boyfriend owed Smith.

Brannon went inside the Exxon, then came out holding money she’d pretended to withdraw from the ATM. Mitchell then pulled a gun and turned to rob Smith, who was sitting in the rear seat.

But Smith pulled his own gun and shot Mitchell.

Brannon then drove south on Third, stopping briefly after Smith, who was trapped in the back seat by the child safety locks, told her to let him out.

He ran away.

Brannon then turned west on Raines and drove to Westmont, about a mile and a half from the Exxon, where she stopped the car and called Jefferson, who came to the scene. Jefferson has not been charged in the case.

Brannon then called 911.

Mitchell died on Westmont from his gunshot wounds.

Monday afternoon, stuffed animals and a bright red poster bearing hand-written “RIP” notes for Mitchell were affixed to a nearby power pole.

The shooting has been ruled self-defense, said Memphis Police Department spokeswoman Karen Rudolph. No one else has been charged, although the investigation is continuing, she said.

Brannon, who was being held on $40,000 bond, made an initial court appearance Monday morning.

**Emphasis added**

Montana: ‘Castle doctrine’ law forces shooter’s release, prosecutor says

August 14, 2009

Billings, Montana

From the Billings Gazette of August 11, 2009

‘Castle doctrine’ law forces shooter’s release, prosecutor says

A man who police said shot his Wal-Mart co-worker in a dispute over the length of a work break has been released from custody because his actions may be protected by Montana’s recently enacted “castle doctrine” law.

The shooting, which took place Monday evening, is under investigation by the Billings Police Department and could still result in charges. But Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos said language in the “castle doctrine” bill passed during the last session of the Montana Legislature required him to release the shooter until more information becomes available.

The law asserts, among other things, that a person has a “natural right” to use firearms for self-defense and is not required to summon law enforcement assistance before using “justifiable” force to ward off an attack.

“The play of (House Bill) 228 with the current law causes us some pause to do a much more thorough investigation to determine if we can charge anyone,” Paxinos said.

When police arrived at the Wal-Mart on King Avenue West at about 9:15 p.m. Monday, they found Daniel Lira, 32, inside the store’s loading dock area with a gunshot wound.

Billings Police Sgt. Jay Berry said that Lira hit co-worker Craig Schmidt, 49, in the face. Schmidt fell backward, then pulled out a .25-caliber semiautomatic Beretta handgun and shot Lira, police said. The single shot was fired at a range of 10 to 15 feet.

Lira, 32, was taken to St. Vincent Healthcare and later released. Police Sgt. Kevin Iffland said the bullet grazed the side of his head from front to back.

Paxinos said that prior to passage of House Bill 228 authorities would have had probable cause to arrest Schmidt for assault with a weapon.

Now, he said, they need more details about whether there was a history of aggression between the two men, what they may have said to each other when the incident occurred and other information that will shape whether it was reasonable for Schmidt to believe his life was threatened. Other details such as the size of the two men – Schmidt weighs 150 pounds and Lira weighs 300 pounds – could also affect whether a self-defense claim is reasonable, Paxinos said.

“I’ll have to do the investigation while the guy is free to move around,” said Paxinos, who along with other county attorneys opposed House Bill 228 during the legislative session.

The “castle doctrine” bill, which was sponsored by Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns of Laurel and supported by the National Rifle Association, sparked passionate debate about self-defense rights before passing the Legislature.

“Once somebody punches you, and you’re down and incapacitated, that person has already demonstrated an intent for violence and you can’t tactically assume that they’re only going to hit you once,” said Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, who crafted the bill.

But those opposing the “castle doctrine” legislation argued that existing law already protects those acting in self-defense, and that the new code would only create unnecessary burdens for prosecutors and police officers.

“There’s just such a disconnect between words on paper and what happens on the streets of Montana, and I think legislators had to be more sensitive to what’s happening on the street,” said Jim Smith, spokesman for the Montana County Attorneys Association.

Aside from potential legal charges, it was unclear if Schmidt or Lira will face disciplinary action from Wal-Mart. Schmidt has a permit to carry the concealed weapon, but a spokesman for the company said it would be inappropriate to discuss whether Wal-Mart has a policy about employees carrying guns.

“We are still gathering details at this time, and we’re now most concerned about the well-being of the people involved,” Kelly Cheeseman said.

North Carolina: Duke student shot during struggle with would-be robber

August 14, 2009

Durham, North Carolina

From WRAL of August 9, 2009

Duke student shot during struggle with would-be robber

A Duke student struggled with a man who tried to rob him, resulting in gunfire that wounded him and possibly the would-be robber, Durham police said.

The student and a woman were walking in the 500 block of Watts Street shortly before midnight Saturday when a man armed with a gun approached them from behind, police said. He ordered the pair to put their hands on their heads and started to search them.

A struggle ensued over the gun, and two shots were fired, police said. The student was shot in the abdomen, and the attempted robber fled.

“I was pretty sure that it was shots, not firecrackers. … It was like right here, and the woman, she was screaming her guts out,” said Anita Akella, a Duke graduate student who lives nearby.

The victim, whose identity hasn’t been released, was treated at a nearby hospital. The woman was uninjured.

The gunman was limping when he fled and might have been shot, police said. He was described as black, approximately 40 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a stocky build. He has bulging eyes. He wore a gray shirt and dark jeans.

The shooting happened one block from Duke’s East Campus, where first-year students are to move in next week.

Graduate student Melanie Oberman said the shooting happened outside the apartment she recently rented.

“I definitely don’t feel comfortable living in the house until I have security put in,” she said. “I had no idea that something could happen right outside my door like that.”

Residents said Trinity Park neighborhood has long been a safe area.

“It makes me very sad, more than it does fearful,” homeowner Sally Spears said. “But the world we live in now has turned into the situation that it is.”

Anyone with any information about the shooting should call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases, and callers never have to identify themselves.

Indiana: Armed homeowner stops enraged man

August 14, 2009

Whiteland, Indiana

From WISH of August 13, 2009

Armed homeowner stops enraged man

A Columbus resident is accused of trying to break into a rural Whiteland home.

Patrick F. Ianni, 33, 4440 Post-horn Court, Columbus, was arrested on charges of residential entry and public intoxication.

At about 1:40 a.m. Thursday, Ianni kicked the door of a rural Whiteland home and broke the door jam but walked away after the owner threatened to shoot him if he entered the home, according to a police report.

“The only smart decision he made was not to enter that home,” Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Doug Cox said. “He’s alive today because he didn’t enter that house.”

Ianni had visited a comedy club in Indianapolis with his girlfriend earlier that night and they got into a fight, according to a police report. He demanded to be let out of the vehicle and she let him out near the Whiteland Road interchange of Interstate 65.

He woke two rural Whiteland residents by pounding on their door. He claimed he was a police officer who wanted to ask them a question.

The homeowner warned Ianni that he had a gun and would shoot him if he entered the house and Ianni responded that he had a knife and would stab the homeowner.

A sheriff’s deputy found Ianni staggering down the road with a bloody nose and he asked the officer if he could give him a ride.

Ianni yelled at officers, threat-ened to beat them up and told them he was a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who just wanted to ask the homeowners a question, according to the police report. The sheriff’s office checked with the FBI, who confirmed that Ianni isn’t an agent.

He’s being held at the Johnson County jail on $4,000 bond.

Florida: Palm Bay homeowner fights off two would-be robbers

August 14, 2009

Palm Bay, Florida

From Florida Today of August 7, 2009

Palm Bay homeowner fights off two would-be robbers

Police continue their search for two armed men who they say pretended to have car trouble before being rebuffed by a resident in an apparent robbery attempt.

The botched hold-up happened late Tuesday night along the 500 block of Windswept Avenue. Police said the two men pulled up to the home and told the resident that they were having car trouble, said Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Palm Bay Police Department.

“They told him their car overheated. He went inside to get a bucket of water and that’s when they pulled a gun on him,” Martinez said.

The resident dropped the bucket then grabbed for the gun, struggling with the men in the front yard for several moments, officials said. Police said the resident overwhelmed the two men, tossed the weapon back at them and ran inside to get his own shotgun.

The two men ran back to their car and drove off in an unknown direction, police said.

“Nothing was stolen,” Martinez said.

It was not immediately known if the two armed men targeted the resident or acted randomly.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call police at 952-3456.

Georgia: Homeowner kills 3-year-old black bear

August 14, 2009

Wayne County, Georgia

From the Sun-Sentinel of August 11, 2009

Homeowner kills 3-year-old black bear

Westley, the wandering black bear, whose journeys brought him too close to homes in Wellington and Weston earlier this year, has died in southeast Georgia, wildlife officials said. He was 3.

Westley, estimated to weigh 200 pounds, was killed by a homeowner Saturday with a shotgun after he damaged property and wandered in a residential neighborhood in western Wayne County, said Melissa Cummings, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“It’d been trying to get into homes, pounding on garages and attempting to get through doors,” Cummings said. “The bear had become too accustomed to people.”

According to the Florida Times-Union, a homeowner named Ken Boyette saw Westley in his neighborhood Saturday, uncomfortably close to where children were riding bicycles and playing football. He shot Westley, killing him instantly.

“I didn’t have a choice. He had no fear of humans,” Boyette told the Times-Union. “I was afraid it was going to hurt one of the kids or someone else.”

The wandering bear first made headlines in April when a Weston family spotted him foraging near the backyard in their gated community. No live bear had been seen in Broward County in three decades.

Westley popped up around Weston a few more times, surprising morning joggers and prompting a school lockdown when students saw him prowling near Manatee Bay Elementary School.

A Sun Sentinel contest to name the bear received nearly 400 entries. Readers eventually chose Westley in a SunSentinel.com poll.

State wildlife officials caught Westley in May and relocated him to Picayune Strand State Forest in Collier County, where most black bears in Florida are found.

But Westley wouldn’t stay put for long. He made his way to Wellington in June, where he was again captured and this time sent upstate to Osceola National Forest.

Last month, he showed up at Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island, in the Jacksonville area, where he bothered no one, said Florida Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro.

From there he crossed the St. Marys River and visited the town of St. Marys in southeastern Georgia.

Westley had an ear tag, SO11, letting officials know it was the same animal that had wandered through South Florida, Ferraro said.

Though Georgia authorities noticed the tag when they captured him in St. Marys early last week, they didn’t know the animal had crossed state lines.

Georgia has a “three strikes” policy when it comes to bears roaming around cities: they can be captured and released two times, but they’re killed if they’re caught a third time, Cummings said. Authorities say they would have put down Westley had they known his Florida history.

Narrowly missing that scrape with death, Westley wasn’t so lucky the next time he wandered into a town a few days later.

After he was killed, Georgia wildlife officials disposed of his body in a landfill, Cummings said.

“Some bears wander around looking for suitable territory,” Cummings said. “A few others are moving bears: they never establish their territory and keep moving, never finding the home they’re looking for. This bear could’ve been that kind.”

G

Tennessee: Teen surrenders, man arrested in Knox fatal home invasion

August 14, 2009

Knoxville, Tennessee

From WHNT of August 11, 2009

Teen surrenders, man arrested in Knox fatal home invasion

A juvenile has surrendered to Knoxville police in a home invasion that left another youth dead.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported 17-year-old Don Christopher Ealey turned himself in Monday after negotiations with the District Attorney General’s Office. He will face only juvenile charges.

Police also arrested 20-year-old Thomas Eugene Mays, who was held in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Investigators said Ealey and 17-year-old Antonio Wooten went to a home in the southern part of the city around dawn on Aug. 5 and knocked on the door. When the homeowner answered the knock, police said Ealey and Wooten tried to push their way in, but were repelled by gunfire.

Wooten’s body was found in a gully beside the driveway leading to the home.