Defensive gun uses in by store clerks in South Florida

From the Miami New Times:

It was pouring rain just after 1 p.m. Monday, July 20, when a man burst into a Honduran grocery store on NW 36th Street in Miami. A shirt was wrapped around his face as he gripped a black semiautomatic handgun. Twenty-year-old Charles Bell shoved the pistol into the face of a manager behind the counter. Then he demanded the contents of the cash register and cartons of cigarettes in a plastic bag.

Next he began herding customers to the back of the small market.

But when he returned to the counter to collect his loot, a short, well-built 24-year-old manager named Valentin Fiallos pointed a .38 and squeezed the trigger. As Bell scampered from the store, he turned and shot back several times. Fiallos, shielding himself, squeezed off several more rounds.

The would-be robber missed every time, but the manager's aim was true. Bell burst out of the store and ran several steps before flopping onto the wet asphalt. A bullet to the chest killed him.

Cops termed it "justifiable homicide." The ruling is backed up by former Gov. Jeb Bush's 2005 "Stand Your Ground" law, which offers wide-ranging legal protection to violent-crime victims who open fire on their aggressors before trying to make peace.

All over South Florida, besieged employees are shooting back. A few blood-soaked examples:

• On August 12, 2007, a 54-year-old Pembroke Pines Super Stop clerk pulled a handgun on a shotgun-wielding pair of robbers, killing one.

• A month later, a clerk at OG's Corner Urban Wear in Oakland Park shot and whacked a 17-year-old robber.

• Two months after that, the manager of a Naranja grocery store killed a 14-year-old ski-masked robber strapped with what turned out to be a BB gun.

• In August last year, a Miami Gardens videogame store manager was murdered in a shootout after he nailed one of three armed robbers.

• And here's a departure from the model. At a Biscayne Boulevard Burger King this past March, a customer with a permitted Glock ended the life of an armed robber in a firefight. The vigilante sustained hits from several bullets and is currently wrapping up physical therapy.

Then there was last month's case of Fiallos killing Bell, which inspired a New Times road trip to find out more about clerks who shoot back. They never know who might walk in when that little bell on the door rings.

First stop was the Pembroke Pines Stop-N-Go, where in December 2008, gas station manager Shedahe Abdel pulled a .45 from a side holster and wounded two armed gunmen.

The burly 43-year-old Venezuelan immigrant keeps a clean shop and treats everybody, including shoplifters he catches on camera, with courtesy. But in the nine years he has managed Stop-N-Go stores, Abdel says, he has been targeted by armed robbers three times. The first two times, he cleaned out the cash register with no hesitation, but his wife and daughter were working in the store with him the second time. "I saw them lying on the floor crying," he recalls, "and I realized I had to buy the gun." . . .

This long story has more examples.

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