BELLMEAD, TEXAS — An armed Texan interrupted a vehicle burglary Sunday afternoon in a Walmart parking lot, but did he go to far? Here are the details from local news sources:
The man, whose name wasn’t released, caught the suspect removing tools from a vehicle in the parking lot, police said.
The would-be burglar returned the tools to the vehicle, and then fled when the man told him to stop because police were coming.
The man, who has a concealed carry permit, fired one shot as the suspect backed up his pickup, fearing that he was going to be run over, police said.
That single shot fired wound up going through the back and front windshields of the suspect’s vehicle. The suspect was not hit, but it was enough to make him stop. He was arrested at the scene.
The question posed is obvious: Should this armed citizen, based on the details above, have fired at the fleeing suspect? Was it a justified discharge of a firearm?
Here’s my take, for whatever it’s worth:
First, each bullet that comes out of your firearm is the responsibility of no one else but yourself. I don’t know the parking lot where this happened and I don’t know how many people were around, but I do know that a bullet can travel a heck of a long way (depending on what it hits, of course). A parking lot is an amazingly dangerous place to discharge a firearm. Let’s put it this way; if I’m ever found to have discharged my firearm in a parking lot, you’d bet your a$$ I was in immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury (or someone else was). If a truck were coming my way while backing up, I’d be jumping out of the way and not firing a round through the windshield. But that point is moot anyway, because I’d be far enough away from the bad guy to have plenty of time to react to a vehicle coming in my direction anyway. At least in this scenario.
Second, a person in a vehicle that’s making a getaway is not a danger to you. The article specifies that the man feared he would be run over as the truck was backing up, and that’s why he pulled the trigger. My response would be. . .you’re too close to the suspect. We, as concealed carriers, don’t go after the bad guys. It’s not our job. We try to avoid them. And then, if our lives are in immediate danger, that’s when we take action. Now, maybe the armed citizen was in a wheelchair and didn’t have a way to quickly avoid an oncoming truck. However, from the sound of it, I believe that the man was simply too close to the bad guy, and he had no reason to be.
I know we all hate crime, and I know that we all want to stop the bad guy. The truth is, however, that bullet could have done some serious damage that was completely unintentional. Of course, I’m talking about injuring or killing a bystander.
If you can’t tell by now, I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Once the bad guy put back the stolen items, I would have called the police with the best description of the suspect and vehicle that I could possibly give. And I’d get a safe distance away.
What about you?