Shots rang out in the Rimrock Mall parking lot as a man attempted to stop two shoplifters Saturday evening.
The two suspects, a male and female, were in the process of shoplifting when they were confronted by another man in the parking lot who told the suspects they could not leave, according to police.
The citizen attempted to block the suspects in by standing behind the vehicle around 7:30 p.m. near JCPenny. “The citizen was open-carrying a sidearm and told the suspects if they tried to run him over he would shoot them,” said Sgt. Matthew Chaney.
Chaney stated the suspects attempted to back into the citizen who pulled his sidearm and fired several shots into the tires of the vehicle. The vehicle still fled the scene.
Police said the suspects were driving a 2009 black Buick Enclave. The shoplifting suspects have not been identified at this time.
Meanwhile, the citizen who fired the shots was questioned at the scene and released, Chaney reported.
Let’s break this down.
An open-carrier decides that he’s going to intervene in an alleged shoplifting incident. We don’t know if that if there was a shoplifting incident, just that the claim of shoplifting is the excuse the open carrier used to get involved. He decides to get behind the vehicle of the alleged shoplifters, draws his weapon, and claims that they shoplifters are “under arrest.”
No, he does not have the authority to arrest anyone at gunpoint, even under Montana’s broad citizen arrest statutes which limit the force used by would-be Eric Cartmans.
He then puts himself behind the vehicle, and threatens to shoot them if they try to leave, which again, he lack the legal authority to do.
They put the vehicle in reverse, force him to back up, and then he opens fire six times as they are driving away.
It doesn’t appear that he hit anything, and his final shot didn’t come within yards of the fleeing vehicle. You can see it hit a snowbank before it ricocheted into the exterior of the mall.
This idiot is lucky he didn’t ricochet a round off the asphalt, the concrete curbs, or the Buick itself into either the two alleged shoplifters or any of the bystanders gawking at the spectacle.
I’m frankly stunned that the Billings Police didn’t arrest him at the scene, as none of the six shots he fired was close to being legally justified. I still strongly suspect he’ll face criminal negligence or even assault with a deadly weapon charges once the investigation is complete.
If you’re going to carry a gun, folks, attend a class on use-of-force issues and the laws relevant in your state. Don’t be an idiot like this guy. You may not be as lucky as he was, and your errant shots may injure or kill someone.
What should he have done if he suspected these two people were shoplifting? Take out his phone and take a picture of the suspects and their license plate number, then immediately call the police while walking away.
This wannabe put the lives of two shoplifters and other citizens at risk due to his incompetence and arrogance.
Be better than this.