Convenience Store Owner Arrested For Shooting Fleeing Beer Thief

Bob Irwin highlights the latest self-defense and other shootings of the week. Read them and see what went wrong, what went right and what we can learn from self-defense with a gun.

USA –-( WFLA TV 8 (On your side) reports in 07-28-18 in Lakeland, Florida, A Polk County man is facing charges after deputies say he shot a thief stealing beer from the convenience store he co-owns with his father at the Shell gas station on Combee Road North.

Deputies say the 43-year-old suspect went into the store around 11:40 P.M., grabbed three 18-packs of Natural Ice beer worth $36, and walked out of the store without paying.

The 22-year-old co-owner grabbed a 9mm handgun from the office and ran out to confront him.

Surveillance video shows the suspect tossing the stolen beer into the passenger seat of his car, getting in and shutting the door. The young co-owner is then seen running up to the car and pointing the gun at the thief.

The co-owner fired as the suspect was backing his car up to leave. The suspect drove away but crashed at the intersection of East Main Street and Fish Hatchery Road.

He was transported Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center to be treated for a gunshot wound to his left arm and chest. He's currently in critical condition.

The 22 year old co-owner was arrested and charged with shooting into an occupied vehicle and attempted second-degree murder.

The robbery suspect has 12 prior felony charges and nine prior misdemeanors including robbery, firing a missile into a dwelling, battery, grand theft and grand larceny. He's been sentenced to Florida State prison four times and just released on June 12, 2018.  The shop owner had no previous criminal record.


Another case of stopping a property crime with a gun but here we have an arguable citizen’s arrest of the suspect. The suspect then apparently attempts to run over the person trying to detain him for police.

When you yell “stop” at a criminal, sometimes they don’t. Be prepared for resistance! In this incident the thief has a long criminal history and is certainly looking at a long time in prison. And so he makes the decision to risk everything to escape.

When all this is sorted out, hopefully the charges against the store co-owner will be dismissed.

We can all understand the young co-owner not wanting the thief to get away with stealing his store’s property.

In retrospect, with the video survelence, it would have been so much easier to just call 911, describe the thief, his vehicle and stay inside the store.

Bob Irwin
Bob Irwin

Bob Irwin, Las Vegas

About Bob Irwin

Bob is retired after 30 years of ownership of The Gun Store & Indoor Range in Las Vegas. He continues his 2A issues show “Fired Up with Bob Irwin” on YouTube and on KLEY 1230 AM, The Nevada Talk Network on Saturdays at 9 a.m.


As a firearm instructor of Concealed Firearm Applicants, Armed Security Officer and Law Enforcement Academies over his career, Bob appears frequently as an expert witness for firearm & use of force cases in Federal, State, and local courts.

  • 32 thoughts on “Convenience Store Owner Arrested For Shooting Fleeing Beer Thief

    1. Wild Bill:
      Your crim law professor may have said court “has nothing to do with the real world,” but court is where someone decides whether or not to send you to prison, or strip you of your life savings, so I personally try to tailor my actions to what will fly in court.
      Where I used to work, the common saying was, “The guy in the dress makes the rules.” I always tried to keep the guy in the dress on my side.

      1. @Old, Yes, a wise policy. Part of my tailored actions was to retire to Texas, where the law is favorable. As to the guy in the dress part … John Chipman Grey famously said “The law is what the judge says it is.” Have a prosperous day.

    2. I think I would have shot him too, just because these types think it’s okay to take and walk away you see it day in and day out, I see people stealing and running out of stores all the time usually blacks and Hispanics and the time I saw a stupid white boy try to run out of home depot with an 80lb. bag of concrete which he dropped and tripped over it and knocked himself out

    3. This is actually a case of the store owner protecting the public from a (to be) drunken driver. 3 cases amounts to an armory of beer. Where is he going to drink stolen beer? Wouldn’t some folks question where a broke excon got the money to splurge? Nobody needs 3 cases of beer.

    4. This incident is a great example for concealed handgun classes everywhere,–there just is no justification for shooting at a fleeing thief with your merchandise, no matter how frustrating the situation. He would have been better off pulling out his cell phone and taking pictures of the thief, car, and license plates to hand over to local LEO’s after filing a complaint. On the other side of my comment is the fact that I was not there and have no idea what the shooter experienced other than what was written in this article and what was shown in a vague video clip.

      1. @DB, no justification for shooting a fleeing felon? Perhaps not according to current libtard thought. Idoits value a person, any person, more that property and goods. If the presumption were that property and goods have a value, but a felon has proved, by his actions, that he has no value, then the there would be justification for ending that valueless person’s life. It would not take much to weigh the balance differently from current misdirected thought.

    5. I find these scenarios troubling. Sure the owner should not shoot at a fleeing suspect, just as an LEO should not do the same thing, but they do and they are either not charged or found not guilty at trial. The other truth in this is law enforcement, more than likely, would not have even responded over a shoplifting call. So is one supposed to do nothing while you get robbed over and over by a career criminal?
      This didnt happen in my part of the country but if I were on that jury he would not be convicted.

      1. What I find troubling is just how many people have accepted the government’s narrative that you have no right to stop a robbery in progress! Do you not understand that it is your right AND responsibility to protect your property and life as well as other victims? Law enforcement was created to do the handle crime because the rest of us are working, but when they are unavailable you have that right! Instead we’ve been indoctrinated to allow these thieves to do as they please and even when they are caught the judicial system turns them lose. This store owner was clearly in the right as far as who was the criminal and who was the victim of crime, and further proof is that the perp is a repeat and career offender that should NOT be on the street. The obvious crime is that the media and other leftist will immediately decent on this store owner for shooting a poor defenseless NEGRO!

        Isaiah 5: 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil…
        23 Which justify the wicked for reward…

    6. Ach, Scheisse! Tennessee v Garner again. Firing upon a fleeing felon is unwarranted, unless the flight endangers other humans downrange. We don’t need idiots to give us “gunnies” adverse publicity; the BolshieCrats and RINOlsheviks are already doing too much to induct us, and don’t need help..

    7. There are a lot of people on taking up for this scumbag.There needs to be laws like Texas I think,an anyone can chime in if I am wrong,but Texas can use deadly force protecting property. You have people on here saying it was only 36.00 of beer.Your right it was only 36.00,but it was his damn dollars.It wasn’t this asshole’s who came in an tried to take it.Anyone taking up for that scumbag must be just like him.I hope that any jury has the common sense to let the owner off any charges.It probably happened in a Left wing county.

    8. This is the kind of action that gives anti-gun people all the ammunition they need. All their claims of society turning into a shoot out come true in this kind of situation. The store owner was feel good right but legally wrong. This kind of shooting, regardless of how a person feels is illegal and punishment should be supported by the gun community. Further more, can we assume that people who support the store owners actions would act the same way if they were in that situation? Frankly that idea frightens me, and I can’t find a way to defend that position. These kind of boneheads will hurt the “law-abiding” gun community more than Bloomburg ever will.

      1. Yeah yeah, we know. We’ve heard the same story from you before. I’ll give the same answer, you’re wrong. Repeal the laws and absent that use jury nullification to send a message to prosecutors that they will not get a conviction for this type of case.

      2. @Joe, Written like someone that has never been the victim of a crime. If you were not so wed to looking at things through a propaganda lens, then you could find a way to defend that position.

      1. WHY? It doesn’t matter that it is beer, it was theft of property! If every “behemah” is allowed to just waltz in and take what they want the business will not survive. The law that prevents a merchant from stopping a criminal in the act, by whatever means necessary is a crime in itself!

      2. but you CAN apply lethal force to end a credible threat to your own safety and well being.. as then the driver began to use the car he probably stole to run over the store owner as he confronted him for his theft. Storeowner rightly fired AT the cause of the threat….. the driver… and hit him. At that point the threat stopped……. as, in result of the well placed shot, the driver crashed his car, having lost control due to his wounds.

        The charge of second degree murder is totally unwarranted…… unless this is in New Jersey or some such rotten hole.

        1. The offender never attempted to run over the clerk. The clerk was alongside the car, and was never in its path. Unless the offender’s car had sideways-jumping capability, the clerk was never in danger.
          (The guy didn’t die, so the charge wasn’t second degree murder, it was ATTEMPTED second degree murder. I think that’s a little extreme, I would have charged him with aggravated battery, but the shooting was definitely unjustifiable.)

    9. The suspect was fleeing. There was no longer a crime in commission. The store owner is incorrect and in trouble. He should have called 911 and relaxed. That six pack is now going to be thousands of dollars in legal fees…..

      1. @jack jones, Maybe expensive, bit not impossible. When the perp’s hand dropped below the car door, it looked as if he was reaching for something. The store owner was reasonably and justifiably defending him self. Or It looked like the perp was turning the wheels so that the car, in reverse would hit the store owner. Thus the car was a weapon, and the store owner reasonably defended himself. And in the alternative, he was shooting to mark the car. Therefore only manslaughter.

    10. How many chances do you need to give a criminal before you recognize they are socially nonredeemable? After climate change starts taking its toll, society is going to come to the conclusion that supporting career criminals is just too expensive, and will vote to permanently remove them. Those criminals who are executed have a zero recidivism rate. As for this case, I hope the store owner can afford a good attorney, as the criminal used his car as a weapon and tried to kill him, and he therefore he was justified in protecting himself.

      1. No, the offender did NOT use the car as a weapon to try to kill anyone. The store clerk was alongside the car and was never its path, and the offender only used the car to escape. (I’d wait a while before I popped one of those beers open, though.)
        The clerk was never in danger, and he should never have fired at the offender.

        1. @Old, with all due respect one need not wait until the perp kills you to realize a deadly threat, and take appropriate action. This case will be won or lost in the picking of the jury.

          1. But you do have to wait till there’s a credible threat. The clerk was alongside the car, and never in its path, so unless the offender could jump the car sideways, the argument that he used the car as a weapon is indefensible. The offender never displayed a weapon or (as far as we know) even verbally threatened the clerk. As for the argument that dropping his hand constituted a threat, he had to drop his hand to shift out of Park, and shooting someone because he makes a natural hand movement isn’t gonna look good to a jury.
            A lot of people seem to be stretching to justify shooting someone over property, and you can’t do that.

            1. The reasonableness and immediacy of the deadly threat must be considered from the view point of the defender, and the under the circumstances of the defender.

              My old crim law professor used to say “Pick a reality that works. Court is the hypothetical plane and has nothing to do with the real world”

              Society needs to re-evaluate the relative value of goods versus criminals. In other words, criminals should be shot over steeling property because one’s property supports ones life. Taking your property could alter or end your life. Look where valuing criminals over property has gotten our society.

      2. Amen SuperG ! Dead Criminals commit NO Crimes ! Wow, how simple is that … Give the store owner a pat on the back, but at the same time, teach him to shoot sooner. Should have wasted ScumBag when he first came out and car was not moving. STORE OWNER…also has job of Loss Prevention ! Ha!
        As far as the crime was no longer being committed…he was fleeing ??? UH… what you are saying is if you make it past the door…you are FREE !! Give me a break ! As long as ScumBag is on Property, with stolen goods, and has not “given up”…then ScumBag needs SHOT ! Libtards can think what they want, but American Citizens have the right to defend their lives and their property. There needs to be a lot more Shootin and less dialing 911. Even ScumBags have enough Grey Matter between their ears to not want to be shot.
        Real World vs Legal.???….God only knows. Lets hope Owner doesnt get in trouble, but our LAWS are the reason Criminals have more Rights than we do….and the reason ScumBags value their Own Lives at no more than a case of beer…GEEEZZZ !

        1. AMEN BROTHER You know this asshole has done this before,just by the way he walks in grabs the beer an just walks out like nobody’s business.Only this time didn’t work out.I fucking love it went a criminal,s plan gets all screwed up

          1. All the store owner has to say is that the perp brandished a gun in the car and he felt threatened AND STICK WITH THAT STORY!!!!

            1. If the offender brandished a gun in the car, why wasn’t a gun recovered? Why wasn’t the brandishing shown on the tape?
              If you’re going to make a spurious self-defense claim, you should try to make one that someone with two brain cells might possibly believe.

            2. What Rattler means is that the defender must say that it looked to him, under the circumstances, that the perp was going for some kind of weapon, that he thought was a gun.

            3. Old 1811 – first of all the camera diesn’t show the perps hands, and brandishing a weapon could simply be the shooter “swearing” he thought he saw him reaching for one, secondly, when the “brutha” drove off he could have “gotten rid of” the weapon before he crashed – did the cops look for a weapon on the street? Did some other “brutha” pick it up before the cops arrived? There are a million variables. That’s why the first rule is KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and CONTACT A LAWYER – a 2nd amendment lawyer!!! Let the lawyer word it for your defense. In most cases it won’t even go to trial. The mistake most shooters make is opening their mouths and incriminating themselves, even accidentally!

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