Follow-up: Man Charged After Firing At Fleeing Shoplifters

BILINGS, MONTANA — A man has been charged six months after firing shots at suspected shoplifters in a busy parking lot, and we called it from the beginning. It’s a pretty simple case of ‘what not to do’ with your firearm.

To freshen up, take a moment to watch the video of the incident.

Local news reports;

City prosecutors have filed charges against a man who fired his gun during an attempted citizen’s arrest in the Rimrock Mall parking lot.

The charges against James Ellis Newman, 30, come six months after the Feb. 25 incident.

Newman was charged on Aug. 18 in Billings Municipal Court with negligent endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm. The charges are misdemeanors.

The Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office previously reviewed the case and declined to file any felony charges.

Let’s review this case:

  • Newman tried to make a citizen’s arrest against two people that were leaving the mall with a cart full of items, which he thought were stolen.
  • He was openly carrying a his firearm and told the suspects if they tried to run him over, he would shoot them.
  • One suspect got out and ran, and the other got into the drivers seat.
  • The new driver tried to leave and lurched backward toward Newman, who didn’t start firing until the vehicle moved forward, away from him.
  • Newman fired six times as the car pulled away.

Police determined that three of the bullets hit the car. Watch the video of the incident to get a clearer picture of what went down that day.

Newman felt that he did the right thing, and expressed those opinions in an interview after the incident.

“At no point was there anybody in danger and I’ve said this to several people. Yeah, I put myself behind a vehicle, maybe that’s not how you conduct your business, but that’s what I did. I chose to do that and yeah it resulted in shots fired. But at no point was any other person in danger. And the ricochet factor, you’re stretching for it, they’re stretching for something to throw out there. ‘Oh well this guy is an idiot, he’s just a gun-toting vigilante.’ No, I’m just your average person walking around.”

With bystanders and other unknown people in the mall parking lot, he’s lucky that the car was all he hit. No amount of merchandise is worth hitting a bystander. While Newman may strongly feel that he still did the right thing, it’s rather irresponsible to do what he did.

Here we are again! In almost all the article, I see how important is to take this information into deep consideration. And just to emphasize #7…

Reflexively spraying rounds in the general direction of an attacker is a great way to injure or kill others – with absolutely no guarantee of taking out your target.

In this case, though, there was no actual threat other than the vehicle coming back towards Newman. Even in that case, he positioned himself in a pretty bad –and vulnerable– area.

About the Author

Evlin is new to the world of firearms, and enjoys writing stories that show armed citizens defending themselves against those who look to inflict harm. She is also interested in world news related to self-defense with firearms, and the hurtles that many Countries face in this category.

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