The Aftermath: Friendly Fire Isn’t

Welcome to Aftermath, a portion of our First Line email newsletter where Attorney Anthony L. DeWitt walks you through a real-life self-defense incident and shares his key takeaways.

Friendly Fire Isn’t

According to WFMZ News, 27-year-old Darrell J. Mussa robbed an Allentown, Pennsylvania, beer store at gunpoint. Moments later, he robbed a pizza store in the same shopping center. The pizza store clerk saw Mussa’s gun, gave up the money, then ran for the back of the store. The robber scooped up the cash and turned to leave. Turning, he saw the owner of the beer store he just robbed. Mussa raised his gun. The beer store owner shot first, fatally wounding Mussa. The clerk, who fled, was hit in his buttocks by a stray round from the beer store owner. The district attorney did not file charges.

In Review

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What did the person in this incident do right? What would you have done differently?

Please remember we can only use lethal force when there is imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm. While we realize our self-defense shots may kill, our intent is always to stop the threat.

If you ever have to legally defend your physical self-defense actions, your posts on all social media may be used against you in court. Please keep that in mind as you post on social media, including the USCCA Community.

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This is a tough one to answer… It reminds me of the homeowner a few months back who awakened to a bad guy over his bed, he drew his firearm and told told the bad guy to leave… a few doors down a young woman was raped by this same bad guy, should the previous homeowner have dispatched the criminal?---- although the beer store owner did the acceptable thing, IMHO, and evidently the DA feels the same way, he got lucky. In today’s anti-gun climate, I’m not sure I’d want to take the chance in either event of protecting someone other than my family or friends ( also, we have seen that it is perfectly OK to used deadly force to assist a police officer-- and I would)… BTW, ALL very good reasons to have USCCA covering your 6 o’clock.

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Dawn,
there is no “newsletters & training”

Thanks! I’ll adjust the copy - the instructions written before the dashboard redesign.

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Assuming the beer store and the pizza store are not next door to each other, separated by a glass wall - the beer store owner followed the robber.
1 Let the police follow the bad guy
2 The bad guy could have had buddies

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@Alexander8 Though, of course, the store owners could be family, in-laws, golfing buddies, poker partners… ya know? Family isn’t always those you’ve been born to. Yet you make a perfectly reasoned point.

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Or maybe seeing the direction the robber went, he wanted to ensure the safety of a person he probably knows.

From this site:
“then went next door to Drake’s Pizza”
“the beer store owner is well-known in the shopping center as a man who fixes problems.”
“[He] takes care of everything," Ali said. “If there’s a dispute over parking, an argument in the lot, [he] is the one to deal with it."

From this site:
“the owner of the beer distributor owns the entire property and keeps a careful watch on the four businesses there.”

From this site:
“Ali was grappling with how close he came to facing an armed robber Thursday night. The robber went down the line of open stores in the strip mall, which sits at the intersection with Pinehurst Road, between Ulster Road and East Columbia Street, surrounded by quiet residential neighborhoods, robbing them at gunpoint, Ali said.”
“I was supposed to be the next (store) hit,” Ali said. Ali can’t believe the serious crimes the businesses have faced. “It looks like a very nice area,” he said gesturing at the homes across the street. “I was shocked when we were (broken into) three months ago.”

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Mistake #1: The beer store owner played the role of a cop.

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How so?

He may have followed the robber, but once he saw him in the pizza place and the robber raised his gun, all bets are off, it becomes a self defense issue.

It is, a small strip center, such as have a convenience store, a sub shop, video store, barber or hair salon, or something similar and they usually know each other.

He was not trying to make a citizens arrest as far as I have been able to determine.

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Yeah, this is a toughie. Following the bad guy is usually a no-no, and shooting someone running away from you is just flat out. Going to the next store in a strip mall you own though, that’s a different critter altogether. Warning your next-door neighbor (while you are armed, bad guys about, you know) is not at all the same as going looking for the bad guy. But then, there he is! He raised his gun. Seems pretty cut-and-dried, in that light.
Didn’t see anything about a video, and with the shooter so well loved by his tenants, yeah, not much for a DA to go on here. No one wants to be laughed out of court.
Do feel bad for the pizza guy though. Needs to move that ass a bit faster, it seems.
Heh, I have a pizza shop/gun story, maybe one day I’ll bore you all with it.

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This is a tough situation. I would not recommend doing what he did but I do not fault him for doing what he did. I cannot say it would be unwise to arm yourself after a robbery. I can also say that I would not have run over to my neighboring business to see if they saw anything that happened for possible description of the burglars or their vehicle. I would hope that he first called 911. I cannot fault him for what he did.
But what about from the legal perspective? If he ran out after the thieves to attack or even catch them then there is a problem. Since they were no longer a threat to him, he could face serious consequences using deadly force.
On the other hand, going to your neighboring store to check on them or even to tell them what happened and see if they have any information is completely justifiable. Once he saw the same burglars holding his neighbors at gunpoint, assuming the state laws allow the use of force in defense of others in a similar way as defense of self, then his use of force would seem be justified.

Even if justified, as the responses in this thread make clear, there are going to be a LOT of questions on his actions. Did he turn from victim to vigilante and was he looking for a fight. Was he seeking revenge or was he protecting his neighbor? It is not an easy call.

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So he owned the whole building and managed the whole building. The thief proved he had intent to put himself in harms way by continuing to the next store to rob them. Was shooting the guy justified? If the police shot the guy would they have been justified, or publicly fried? In today’s society one never knows which direction the judicial system will go.

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I would probably done the same thing prior to becoming a member of the USCCA. After reading all of Attorney Jamison’s articles, today I am a lot more cautious about playing hero with a weapon.

Simper Fi Danny28, The question not answered is did the robber raise his gun at the Beer store owner? IF so, the threat existed again to the beer store owner and does the beer store then have the right of self defense?

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Your scenario does not have the armed robber actually LEAVING the pizza store. Rather ‘he turned’ as he was leaving and raised his firearm. The storeowner rightly perceived the threat and fired. Store owner does have potential liability for his clerk that he shot.

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Once the perp RAISED HIS GUN in the direction of the store owner it became a self defense issue.

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Outside of a missed shot he did nothing wrong. Sure, let him ( criminal) go so he can come back and do the same thing or worse. He was protecting an innocent ( store owner) and that should be enough. The same scum will return over and over to rob the same store(s). Just check the Chicago crime reports. Call 911? it Bad idea because when they arrive (or if) YOU will be holding the gun. Bang! You’re dead.

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In Texas we have the right to intervene for another that is in grave danger. That does not mean one should, the wounded store clerk certainly could sue also.

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Testing for the first time

If he owns the whole building, he was protecting his property! Also the perp raised his gun to shoot so it was self protection.

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