Shoplifter Shot At While Fleeing Home Depot: Expert Says Not Justified

The video above shows a man fleeing a Home Depot with over a $1,000 worth of merchandise. However, the alleged shoplifter at a suburban Michigan retail center had more to worry about than store security. According to the Washington Post, the suspect was shot at while trying to escape the scene of the crime on October 6 by a concealed pistol permit holder.

Following the alleged shoplifting incident and subsequent shooting, the Auburn Hills Police Department sent out a tweet asking for the public’s help locating the suspects. However, despite the police department’s concern over finding the alleged shoplifter, the public was more concerned about the “reckless” actions of the gun-wielding vigilante. Even concealed weapons permit instructors are up in arms about her decision to discharge her firearm in a busy shopping center.

The shooter, who has not been identified, apparently shot repeatedly at the “escape vehicle,” a dark SUV, as the shoplifter and his getaway driver fled the Home Depot parking lot. Reports indicate that while it doesn’t appear that she wounded the alleged shoplifter, it’s possible she hit and flattened one of his rear tires. She has fully cooperated with the investigation, according to law enforcement. Some locals, however, are not happy that despite firing a deadly weapon in a crowded shopping center, she was not arrested.

An alleged shoplifter with more than $1,000 worth of goods stolen from a Home Depot in Auburn Hills, Mich. [Photo by: Auburn Hills Police Department]

The shooter, who repeatedly discharged her weapon, angered customers, locals, and concealed carry instructors alike. There are very clear laws and regulations in place which dictate when it’s appropriate to fire a shot at another person. First and foremost, you should never fire a shot unless you’re in imminent danger. The consensus among experts is that going vigilante on a shoplifter who is fleeing the scene definitely doesn’t qualify. The Detroit Free Press reports that the 48-year old woman who shot at the shoplifter was never in any danger.

Indeed, it’s almost never legal to fire a shot at a shoplifter, particularly when you’re simply defending against the loss of property.

“You have to know the entire situation before you pull that handgun out. And I don’t see that a shoplifter at Home Depot fills any of those criteria.”

It was apparent to witnesses that the concealed pistol permit holder who shot at the shoplifter was unaware of everything that had led up to the man’s attempted escape. The Home Depot is also part of a very crowded retail shopping area, and there were dozens of other people in the direct vicinity of the shots fired. The fact that she was only able to (possibly) hit the SUV with a single shot after having fired several times at the shoplifter indicates that a bystander could easily have been hit by a wayward bullet. Thankfully, no one was injured, however, the situation could have been deadly for anyone in the area.

It’s also important to recognize that while being a shoplifter is illegal, it doesn’t warrant being shot. Theft of property is not a capital crime, and every accused shoplifter is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

This instance of a shoplifter being shot at comes at a very contentious time for gun rights in the United States. In addition to last week’s college mass shooting, we have had a year with some highly publicized police shootings. These shootings have brought the subject of the appropriate use of force into sharp focus, especially when in response to petty or non-violent crimes. Being a Home Depot shoplifter who runs away and never threatens anyone’s well-being is definitely non-violent.

Today, Americans are reeling in the wake of yet another college shooting, which took place in Arizona. This most recent shooting was the result of an argument between two different groups of Northern Arizona University students (reportedly fraternity members). The altercation escalated into violence, with one student ultimately shooting four others. One of the victims in this case lost his life, while three other victims are currently being treated in Flagstaff, reports ABC News. In this most recent case of college students being shot on campus, the shooter has been identified as 18-year-old Steven Jones, a freshman.

The students who were shot in the incident that took place at approximately 1:30 a.m. local time were Colin Brough (deceased), Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek, and Nicholas Piring.

The Northern Arizona University shooting, which has spawned the hashtag #prayfornau, took place just over a week since the Oregon mass shooting, the same day that President Obama is scheduled to visit Roseburg and less than three days after an alleged shoplifter was shot at in a Home Depot parking lot.

[Image Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]