Authorities haven’t disclosed yet whether or not 43-year-old Virgis Canteen had a concealed carry permit. They aren’t denying that Canteen had a right to defend himself once 14-year-old Davion Smith approached Canteen, pulled a gun, and opened fire upon him.
Smith fired first and hit Canteen multiple times, but Canteen pulled a pistol of his own, and the shootout was on:
At 7:49 p.m., Smith and two unidentified companions began taunting Canteen in the courtyard outside his Oregon Avenue apartment before the teen drew a handgun, a witness told police.
Canteen also had a handgun and, according to Canteen, the teen began shooting at him first, striking him several times in the “upper extremities,” police spokesman Sgt. Gary Gross said in a report.
Canteen said he returned fire, striking the teen “numerous times.”
This was not the 5-feet 8-inch tall, 130-pound teen’s first brush with violence. State records state he was a convicted felon arrested twice since age 12 for armed robbery with a gun, once for battery on a public or school employee and once for burglarizing a home.
Gross identified Smith as a documented gang member.
Smith was pronounced dead at 8:25 PM at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where Canteen was also admitted for treatment.
Eyewitnesses stated conclusively that Canteen only drew his weapon after he had been shot, so his right to deploy the pistol in self-defense is not in dispute.
The tension between Canteen and the teen began last month, when Canteen’s home had been burglarized, and he accused Smith of being the burglar.
It will be interesting to see if Canteen has a valid concealed carry permit, and what local prosecutors decide to do if he did not. While it is possible that Canteen might not have been permitted, it is going to be very difficult to find a jury who will convict a man who did not draw his weapon until he had already been shot.