Thomas Hartman isn’t the smartest robber in the world, but he’s among the luckiest. He attempted to rob a North Carolina gas station with pepper spray, and found that the gun-wearing owner didn’t have an itchy trigger finger:
Cleveland County deputies said just after 10 a.m. a masked man armed with a canister of pepper spray entered Padgett’s BP gas station on Polkville Road in Shelby, NC.
They said the store owner immediately realized he was being robbed and drew his gun from its holster and pointed it at the suspect.
The suspect ran from the store, and the owner followed him, according to the sheriff’s office.
A person pulling into the store parking lot saw the suspect fleeing and followed him in his vehicle.
They said the man was able to detain the suspect until deputies arrived.
Hartman doesn’t appear to be a rocket scientist, but at least he was smart enough to know that attempting to arm a good guy with a gun was going to end poorly for him if he continued to press the issue. He’s currently in jail on a common law robbery charge, with a $20,000 bail.
The store owner in this instance did the right thing by holding fire. It is doubtful that law enforcement or the local district attorney would consider Hartman’s pepper spray a lethal force threat justifying his firing the gun in most circumstances.
As in the vast majority of defensive gun uses, it was the mere display of a firearm that was enough to end an attempted crime.
Non-firing gun defenses like this play out every year in the United States to little fanfare, between 500,000 and 3 .2 million times.