LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A string of shootings at convenience stores and other businesses across Indiana has left suspects dead and sparked a debate over whether clerks should be allowed to carry weapons — and use them.
At least four attempted robberies in the state have ended in fatal shootings in the past month. In all of those cases, the clerks fired back.
The shooting surge has left many wondering what to do if placed in a similar situation and police trying to provide guidance.
"I don't think people should ever lose their life over loss of money or property. We would hate to see a clerk become a victim or get in a shoot-out, so we would encourage people to be good witnesses and contact the police," West Lafayette Police Chief Jason Dombkowski told the Journal & Courier ( ). "However, people definitely have a right to protect themselves if they're in fear of losing their life."
The first shooting occurred Sept. 17 at Don's Guns and Galleries in Indianapolis. Police said a man walked into the store, asked a clerk to rent a gun and used that weapon to shoot the clerk. The clerk fired back, killing the customer.
On Sept. 30, a masked man holding a gun walked into an Indianapolis liquor store. A clerk who had just returned home from an Army tour in Iraq shot and killed the robber.
A clerk at another Indianapolis liquor store fatally shot a man Oct. 6 during an argument in which the suspect refused to leave the store and did not pay a bill that was between $5 and $6.
An employee of a Richmond pizza shop shot a robber three times on Oct. 14. The man later died at the hospital. It was unclear if he was armed.
Tippecanoe County Sheriff Tracy Brown said employees who arm themselves need to make sure they're following company policy and are trained in how to use the firearm and when it's appropriate to do so. Without proper training, he said, it's hard to know whether force is justified in the short time in which an employee has to make that decision.
Those who fire a gun in self-defense are subject to the same shooting review as police officers, Brown said.
"Like police officers, store clerks have the idea that at the end of the night, you just want to go home to your family," Brown said. "The young man from Indianapolis who is a veteran, he faced something that most people will never face in their lifetime, and he had to make a snap decision based on all this experience and training."
Sukhbir Manihani, who bought Main Street Station in Monticello in May, said he has no problem with employees carrying firearms so long as they are licensed to do so. A clerk at the store used her gun to protect herself from an armed robber in February.
Manihani also runs convenience stores in Indianapolis, Delphi and Logansport and said he has faced robbers a number of times over the years.
"You are not safe anywhere and anything is possible. No matter what, no matter where you are or how nice of a neighborhood you are in, things happen," Manihani said.
"Everybody has a right to protect themselves."
Information from: Journal and Courier,Tags: