A Philadelphia laundromat owner with no understanding of self-defense laws is out of $2,000 in cash and is likely looking at jail time and expensive lawsuits after a botched robbery turned into a chase and shooting.
A laundromat owner armed with a gun shot a robber as well as a bystander in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon, according to police.
Investigators say the ordeal began at 4:19 p.m. when a 42-year-old man armed with a knife entered a laundromat on the 2800 block of N. 5th Street. The armed man forced the laundromat owner, who was behind the counter, to give him $2,000, according to police.
As the robber left with the money, the laundromat owner grabbed a revolver and began to chase him, investigators said. Police say the robber threw the money in the air and fled as the owner ran after him.
“I saw one of the guys running with a pack of money,” said Angel Perez, the owner of a store next to the laundromat. “When this guy ran he told him three times, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!'”
The owner then fired five shots and struck the robber twice in the chest, according to officials. A 51-year-old woman, who investigators say was an innocent bystander, was also shot twice in the left hand.
When the knife-armed robber left the store, the laundromat owner should have called police. His decision to chase the man through urban streets with a drawn weapon was a huge mistake, as was apparently emptying the gun in the direction of the suspect, critically wounded the fleeing man and also hitting an innocent bystander.
The laundromat owner is responsible for every single one of those five shots fired from his revolver. He will almost certainly face a very expensive civil suit over the shooting of the innocent bystander, and may face one from the robber’s family as well if they can build a decent case that the shooting was unnecessary and that the laundromat owner had turned into the aggressor.
There’s also a very good chance that the laundromat owner will face felony charges for assault with a weapon.
Self-defense laws are designed for the protection of human life from attacks by violent predators. They are not written to justify vigilante actions which put other lives at risk.
The laundromat owner would have been justified in drawing his gun and shooting the robber inside the laundromat during the robbery, but that’s not what happened here. The laundromat owner retrieved his firearm as the robber was fleeing, and decided to give chase. At that point, he became the problem. When he opened fire, he became the bad guy, and a liability to his community.