Smoke Shop Worker Shoots At Fleeing Robber In Virginia

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.

Smoking Gun
Smoking Gun

USA –-( WVEC TV 13 News Now reports 07-18-18 in Chesapeake, Virginia, a suspect who robbed a store at gunpoint Tuesday morning seemed to get more than he expected when a worker followed him out of the store and shot at him.

Chesapeake Police Department spokesman Officer Leo Kosinski said four people pulled up to Smoke Shop in the 3100 block of Western Branch Boulevard in a red car shortly before 11 a.m.

One suspect got out of the car with his face covered. He had a gun. That suspect went into the store and grabbed some merchandise.

The suspect ran out of the business and got into the car. A worker with a gun followed him out of the store and took a shot at the car as it left. Police don't know if the bullet hit the car or anyone inside it.

A witness in an adjoining business said “Only one shot was fired. He walked with a mask covering his face the entire time down-like he wasn't even trying to hide what he was about to go do”. (Quote as reported)

The witness added it's not the first time he's seen the suspect. The very same person was in the shop earlier that morning, apparently without his face covered.


The reports say the robber had a gun. The self-defense case would certainly be valid had the clerk fired while the armed suspect was in the act of grabbing merchandise.

Apparently the clerk decided to wait until the suspect had gone outside the store. These circumstances would cause an arrest of the clerk in most jurisdictions.

The obvious exception of Texas as state law allows use of deadly force to recover stolen property or capture a fleeing criminal. A very few other small jurisdictions, are in some cases, reaching for the same ideas.

Fortunately for the clerk it appears he did not hit the suspect so perhaps it can be argued in court as a warning shot that did no damage.

The no harm, no foul is a tough defense to sell in most courts. This defendant would need a top flight attorney to have any chance of avoiding jail time.

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.

  • 22 thoughts on “Smoke Shop Worker Shoots At Fleeing Robber In Virginia

    1. Look, I’m not on the side of dirt bags. I’m on the side of good LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS who are acting within the law. And before all of you begin telling me again the law is wrong, and unjust, and stupid, and should be changed I’ll say I agree with you. But it is incumbent on all of us to recognize the difference between should, ought, better, preferred, maybe, what if, wishful thinking, and what IS -IS – IS. We claim that anti gun folks don’t understand reality. Well let’s not fall into the same ideological trap of not recognizing reality. I carry every day, but as I have been taught, and currently teach, an armed citizen needs to make certain decisions before faced with the reality. My mindset is primed not to shoot someone in the back, not to shoot a fleeing person, not to shoot to defend property, not to shoot unless there is a clear danger to myself or my family’s life and limb, and you can call me a dirtbag or coward if you want, but I’m not putting my life, liberty and financial well-being on the line to defend another person who has decided not to accept responsibility for their own safety. I’m not unsympathetic to emotional responses but I much prefer reasonable and legal ones. And I don’t trust people with guns who respond out of anger, or frustration or a lack of clear thinking, rather than reason.

      1. @Bill, The answer to your question would require a lot of typing. Please see TPC 9.02, 9.31, 9.41, 9.42 and the corresponding sections of Tex Jur 3rd sect. 1922

        Are you a resident of Texas?

    2. “The witness added it’s not the first time he’s seen the suspect. The very same person was in the shop earlier that morning, apparently without his face covered.”…. his face WAS COVERED.
      2 questions:
      1) If his faced was covered the first time, how did the clerk KNOW who it was?
      2) As his face was covered during the robbery, how could the clerk identify him later, except for clothing?
      His face being covered earlier that day, THAT should have been a warning! The clerk or store owner should have called police immediately upon his entry into the store!

    3. A couple of commenters have mentioned TN v Garner. Everything is “could and should”. That’s all fine until you’re looking at 20 or 30 years. Trying to convince a jury is a crap shoot unless you have me on your jury. I’ll say it again, change the law or start an informational campaign designed to let people know that the next person that fleeing, armed felon may come across may just be them. Would they rather that or that he was stopped before it ever reached that point?

      1. Shooting a fleeing felon THAT YOU KNOW IS ARMED is reasonable, in that it prevents the felon from posing a danger to others (car-jacking, home invasion to obtain a getaway car and/or hostage – and possibly using deadly force as a means to accomplish any of the aforementioned and more – or future armed robbery). Also, Tennessee v. Garner only applied to the states and their representatives – the Police, etc.; NOT citizens. We were taught, in Missouri AFTER Tennessee v. Garner, that a fleeing felon – armed or not – that we could reasonably perceive as an immediate OR FUTURE threat to others, based upon knowledge or observation of his actions and disposition, could and should be shot. The same SHOULD be true for the armed citizen. It should not be a crime to shoot, and even kill, the lowlife just because “the danger and immediate threat TO YOU has passed because they turned their back to run away.” It should be considered by the law and the courts to be a “service to the public welfare” to do this. And then there’s also the facts surrounding reaction time, etc. Just because someone is shot in the back does NOT mean that he wasn’t facing you when you began to fire.

      2. @durabo, But if in Texas see Taylor v. State and Thompson v. State regarding that portion of the right to defend one’s self with deadly force that includes pursuit and maneuver to make that defense.

    4. In the heat of the moment, you have to use your noggin and ask yourself, ” What to do next”. This clerk did not use his wisdom and knowledge in this case. I would have shot inside the store after alerting him to stop while I was taking aim at this thief. Running outside could have gotten the clerk shot immediately from other is the get away car. Maybe the court if it decides to prosecute him for Public Endangerment will give him a pass on this first time event. Hope he learns of the Grave Mistake he made in this case a will Join the USCCA soon.

    5. This person should be charged and brought to trial, and responsible gun owners, which is what we are always claiming to be, should support this position. While emotionally we can understand his actions, legally we must act in a manner consistent with our position that we believe in the rule of law, and that we as a group are law abiding. It is not enough that we claim to be be law-abiding, we must act in accordance with that position. By supporting a charge, and prosecution we undercut the position of our opponents, and make the incident useless to them for propaganda. And make no mistake the fight we are involved in is one of words, perception, and position, not facts. A demand for prosecution and a trial goes further to support our law-abiding claim than all the words coming out of the NRA’s collective mouths.

      1. A better position would be to support repeal of the law prohibiting this action and, if you are on the jury, a not guilty verdict, showing prosecutors that when someone endangers your life and then flees, that person continues to present a danger to anyone they come into contact with (under the fleeing felon concept) and that deadly force is acceptable to stop them.

        This is far preferable than us supporting laws that are anathema to self defense.

        1. Joe, you live in a sick world where whatever government decides is what is right and good. The overarching principle of justice, and effecting “the security of a free state” says differently. Since when are The Only Ones the only ones to administer justice? The thief perpetrated a grave crime. Should he walk just because a copper didn’t happen to be there yet? THAT is not justice. So he knocked this shop today. Where will he show up tomorrow? Taking this kind of dirt off the street should be EVERYONE”s concern. Who knows whether he won’t be in the deli when this guy shows up, and he decided to fire on the crowd to make sure nobody but dead people are left behind to identify him?

          Yes, “the law” says so…. but that is a sick law and needs done away with. ONLY those laws enacted that are consistent with our Constitution are part of the Supreme Law of the Land. This perp remained a lethal threat even as he crawled back into his car and sped away. WHO will be his next victim? Guys like this can continue their evil because WE have allowed “the law” to cut off our own hands, forcing us to depend on the hired guns of government. And most times they don’t care. They are not paid to care, OR to protect us, OR to round up dirtbags like this and bring them to what passes for justice these days.

          If I were on the jury for this guy’s trial, there is no way I could convict and sleep at night. He’d walk, and I”d work hard to convince the other jurors to see things the same way.

      2. @Joe, rather than spending all that time and money trying to convict a nice guy that had been stolen from, I think our entire society rethink the value of goods versus criminals. And each of the states should change the status of thieves to that of varmints, which are given no legal protection, by the law. Goods have value. Criminals do not.

      1. @CB, I concur. Some time ago, someone made the decision, for us, that people are more important than property. That sounds good, to the libtard ear, but often our lives depend upon our property.
        Someone that points a gun at you demonstrates that he has no regard for your life. Someone that steals from you demonstrates that he has no regard for your life.
        Someone, anyone, tell me again, why we let these people go just because they temporarily discontinue their attack?

    6. It’s unfortunate that in the heat of the moment the clerk crossed that line, but the line is there for very good reasons.
      There’s no way to know if there were unwilling passengers or children in that fleeing vehicle, and if we allow cases like this to pass for self defense, sometimes there will be.
      If we support the right to self defense, and the defense of others, we have to denounce those who lose control of such situations, and acknowledge that they are ill equipped to manage the responsibility.
      I wouldn’t personally demand throwing the book at him, but I’d certainly insist he face charges that ensure he doesn’t get another chance to “legally” fire another shot in anger. The legal and appropriate use of force was clearly a difficult concept to him, and denying his personal access to firearms is probably the best way to guarantee he doesn’t get mixed up again.

      1. on what grounds do you assert he fired that shot in ANGER? Perhaps a sense of justice, or preventing the perp from moving on to the next place. or assuring the perp reaches an informed decision to not come round to that place again? Why do you INSIST on judging him to have fired in ANGER? A bit of projection, perhaps?

        1. @B I realize what the law says, however, the reason we have guns is to protect. It is very unfair to label the clerk and want his protection taken. So if there are kids in the car that is pure stupidity on the part of the thief. The only criticism I have of the clerk is that he should have nailed the guy while he was still in the store and he needs to practice. Otherwise, leave him alone.

    7. That clerk was a dumbass on several levels. First, the threat was gone. Second, he fired a shot which could have endangered the public. And lastly, the shot he fired did indeed endanger the public as he missed his intended target.
      If that happened around here I would likely be having a chat with him about the wisdom of his choices. YMMV.

    8. I can understand the anger of citizens being robbed, and their frustration seeing the same criminals on the streets over and over again, but you have to know your laws. I hope the guy can get off the hook on this and keep his gun rights, but I doubt it will happen.

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