A female Knoxville convenience store clerk is very lucky that her male friend was at the right place at the right time. The man was sitting in his parked vehicle when he noticed an armed robber force the clerk behind the counter at gunpoint. The male friend retrieved his own handgun from his vehicle and quickly ended the threat:
Officers responded to the Breadbox located on the 6200 block of Asheville Highway around 2:35 a.m after receiving a call that shots had been fired.
When officials arrived, they found Tamon J. Stapleton, 18, dead with a gunshot wound. Police say Stapleton, armed with a 9mm handgun, had entered the store and was forcing the female clerk behind the counter at gunpoint.
A male friend of the clerk, who was outside the store in his parked vehicle, witnessed the attempted robbery, retrieved his handgun, entered the store and fired one shot, hitting Stapleton.
The most surprising part of the article?
Local news media seemed stunned that it is perfectly legal to defend the life of a third party without being a sworn law enforcement officer.
WATE 6 On Your Side wanted to find out if that was legal so we reached out to Knox County’s top prosecutor.
“The law in Tennessee as to third party is basically the same as it is to any individual in self defense,” said Knox County District Attorney General Charme P. Allen. “If you walk upon a stranger and you think that stranger is fixing to be hurt, then you can act on behalf of that strange.”
Knoxville police said no other injuries were reported. Officers say the friend will not face any charges because he was acting to protect another citizen. The gun Stapleton used is believed to be stolen and its serial number had been removed.
In case you were wondering, no, WATE 6 isn’t the only media outlet that seemed flustered by the lack of charges, and who felt compelled to reach out to an expert to explain self defense law.
Here’s more from WBIR:
No charges will be filed against the man who shot and killed an armed robber early Monday at an East Knoxville convenience store because he was “protecting another citizen and his own life,” according to the Knoxville Police Department.
A Knoxville attorney said because the act was one of defense the law protects the shooter.
“You are allowed to defend yourself with both reasonable and necessary force, and the defense of another is appropriate should somebody else that you’re with or acquainted with also be placed in similar danger,” Don Bosch said.
Many, many moons ago when we took notes in our college journalism classes by pressing a stylus into clay tablets, we took media law classes that focused on libel and ethics. Since modern journalism schools have clearly given up on the concept of teaching ethics, perhaps they should instead spend some time discussing firearms and self-defense laws so they don’t come across as such clueless rubes.