Friday, December 3, 2010

Two Detroit Gas Station Robberies - Two Different Outcomes

Within the last month or so, there have been two highly publicized armed robbery attempts at gas stations within the city limits of Detroit. As I inform students in my Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL) Class, gas stations are among the most dangerous places to be located. We live in a mobile community, so it is a necessary albeit dangerous task that we must perform on a consistent basis. Many are unaware of the dangers that lurk in that environment.

Many gas stations in Detroit are dimly lit, offer robbers easy access to a continuous procession of potential victims, and are typically ran by employees who do little to discourage loitering - sometimes by violent predators - on the premises. Although there were some similarities in both robbery attempt cases, the eventual outcome couldn't have been more different.

On Wednesday, December 1rst of this year, a 30 year-old Detroit man was shot to death in an apparent robbery attempt at a BP Gas Station at the intersection of 7 Mile Road and Rutherford Street. Retrieved video of the incident, which occurred in the early morning hours of the day, showed that two armed assailants "laid in wait" for the victim to exit the building before they forced him down to the ground at gun-point and searched every inch of his body for anything of value.

Initial accounts of the story, broadcast on local media outlets, suggested that the victim had initially refused to surrender his car keys upon request by the jackers. Updates to the story, as released by the media, informed the local community that the victim under the stress of having his life in jeopardy could not find his keys fast enough for his murderers.

He was shepherded back into the gas station building with his hands clasped behind his neck - while both a handgun and a shotgun were aimed at him - in an effort to find his errant keys. In the interim, he begged and pleaded with his assailants not to harm him, as he was a father of small children. In the end, the jackers stole the victim's wallet, took his leather motorcycle club vest which they can't wear on the street, and took his life by literally shooting him in the heart. The car, the intended object, was left at the scene. This man died for nothing.

On the evening of October 19th of 2010, a 37 year-old man at a Detroit gas station located near the intersection of Fenkell Avenue and Schaefer was selected for victimization via a reported carjacking attempt. The victim was reportedly pumping gasoline into his vehicle in the early evening hours of the day when he was approached by a gunman who demanded the keys to his vehicle.

At the time of the incident, a small child was reported to be in the back seat of the vehicle. An ensuing gun battle ensued in which more than 20 total rounds of ammunition were discharged. The victim was struck several times: under his eye, in an arm, and in a leg. The assailant was also struck several times but perished in the fire-fight. The victim had a state of Michigan Concealed Pistol License and was legally armed.

Michigan law authorizes the usage of lethal force to defend oneself or the safety of another "third person," as long as the person is somewhere he has a legal right to be, is not engaged in a crime, and has a reasonable and honest belief that he or some other "third person" is in imminent jeopardy of severe bodily harm, sexual assault, or death.

In the case of the second gas station shooting, an argument for the justified usage of deadly force can be easily made for either the victim's safety or the "third person" who in this case was the small child in the vehicle.

The second case also has some lessons for those who are concerned with personal protection. For starters, guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens can save lives. In this scenario, the life of the victim and the life of the child were saved. Furthermore, another moral of the story is that there are no guarantees when fighting for your life. The victim in this story could have died. He was, however, injured via multiple gunshot wounds, but is expected to make a full recovery.

There are no official rules of engagement during a violent attack on the mean streets of metro-Detroit. One can not expect to not be harmed, even if he fully complies with the demands of a predator. As illustrated in the case of the first gas station shooting, you can beg and plead for your life and still be cut down and left for dead while the video camera tape rolls. As for me, if I am ever presented with unsolicited violence from a predator, I will take my chances fighting for my life. I prefer, if necessary, to die fighting on my feet than to rely on the charity of predator while on my knees.

I've made my decision to not be a victim. What decision have you made? To not make the choice to defend your life is to choose victimization, by default.
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