An armed bystander shot and killed a would-be robber at a Virginia Beach 7-Eleven and wounded another, The Virginian-Pilot reports. None of the innocent bystanders were harmed in the foiled armed robbery.
Barrie Engel says that she made a late-night run to the convenience store thinking she’d be in and out quickly. However, her trip was interrupted by armed, masked men who stormed into the store. She says the men displayed their guns and told everyone not to move.
“I did exactly that, I pretty much froze and looked at my friend and he looked at me, wondering, ‘Is this really happening? Is this real?'”
She says she watched as the terrified clerk raised his hands and begged the robber not to shoot him. Then, she says, she heard gunshots. She and her companion dropped to the floor thinking that the clerk and possibly someone else had been shot.
It wasn’t one of the robbers who had fired off the gunshots, however. It was another customer, a man.
“Nobody’s gonna point a gun at me and get away with it,” the man said.
When the dust had settled, one of the robbers was on the floor, dead. Another was behind the counter, injured, and begging for help.
— WTKR News 3 (@WTKR3) July 20, 2019
As of this writing, no one involved in this shooting has been identified by the police. As of this writing, the bystander who shot the robbers has not been charged with any crimes. If he is criminally charged, however, his name will be made public.
This is not the first time an armed bystander has thwarted a robbery. In Virginia Beach, in 2017, a clerk shot at a would-be robber and paralyzed him. Similarly, in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2018, a man shot and killed a gunman who had stormed into a McDonald’s and started firing. Police determined the shooting was justified, and the man was not criminally charged.
Gun rights activists say that armed civilians are a necessary hedge against armed criminals, calling the hypothetical armed bystander the “good guy with a gun.” However, ABC News claimed in 2018 that there’s little evidence that armed bystanders have much of an effect when it comes to preventing crime.
“I have yet to see the evidence base for that claim,” said psychiatrist Liza Gold.
Back in Virginia Beach, police are looking into whether or not there’s a connection between this most recent robbery and a string of similar robberies at convenience stores, both in Virginia Beach and in nearby Norfolk and Newport News.