ATLANTA, GEORGIA — An armed robber attempted to make off with the cash register in a Family Dollar in Southwest Atlanta when one of the clerks pulled a gun of his own and shot him.
According to an Atlanta police spokesman, an unnamed suspect walked into the Family Dollar located off Cascade and demanded the cash box and its contents from an employee working the counter. He took the contents and was proceeding to exit when the employee drew a handgun of his own and shot him twice — once in the thigh and once in the hand.
The latest word from NBC 11 Atlanta is that the robber had been apprehended and taken in for medical treatment. He will be charged in the attempted armed robbery. The employee is not expected to receive charges.
This is a case of using deadly force to stop a violent felony from taking place. There’s a bit of a clear distinction between using a gun to defend your life and using it, where applicable by state law, to stop the commission of a crime. As we can pretty clearly see, this armed robber already completed his objective and was looking to escape. The specific language we’re looking at is the part of O.C.G.A. 16-3-21 (2010) that gives the conditions for deadly force. Namely, we’re discussing the part where a person is authorized to use deadly force to “prevent the commission of a forcible felony”.
This store clerk may have also saved the lives of any person stuck between the armed robber and his avenue of escape. Should someone have been right outside the door or otherwise not aware that an armed robber was making his escape through the exit, that person may have unintentionally become a victim.
The clerk had a tough call to make. Use deadly force on a suspect that is fleeing the scene or sit tight and wait for police. For those who may not know this particular area of Southwest Atlanta, I’ll give some anecdotal insight because I lived not far from Cascade for over a year.
This section of Atlanta is loosely referred to as “The Bluff”. It is an extremely rough section of the city and violent crime is common. People have been shot for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This clerk, whether he intended to or not, likely prevented that sort of tragedy from taking place by employing his own handgun.
In general, we would advocate that a concealed carrier never engage his firearm against a fleeing suspect in a crime unless it is to preserve his own life or that of those around him. State law varies from state-to-state. Some states have definitions of deadly force which include a person’s right to defend himself or another when a party is in the commission of a violent felony.
Armed robbery is certainly a violent felony.
However, don’t feel obliged to stick your neck out there and be a hero. On the contrary, it’s far better to stay put and contact police. In the Bluff, it may take a hot minute for them to arrive so you may have to sit tight for quite awhile.
Carry every single day and make sure to employ deadly force only when an imminent, deadly threat is directed at you or another.
DISCLAIMER: This writer is not an attorney and his advice should not be taken as such. Be safe and use your best judgement.