The 37-year old man who shot two armed robbers at a Virginia Beach 7-11 last month is now speaking out about having to act in self-defense and in defense of others. While he’s not revealing his name, he is going into great detail about what happened when he went for a Big Gulp, and it’s incredibly compelling to read.
“I’m sipping on my Big Gulp, and this red beam cuts into my drink,” said the man, who agreed to tell The Virginian-Pilot what happened July 25 on the condition he not be identified.
“I look down and I’ve got a pink drink with something orangish-red in there. Then I look up and there are two guys pretty much standing on top of each other with two guns pointed in my face.”
The gunmen, on what police say was the last stop of a spate of robberies around 2 a.m. that Thursday, had hoods pulled over their heads and bandannas covering their faces. The red spot in the man’s drink was a laser light from one of the guns aimed in his direction.
The armed citizen, who’d already had a heck of a night that began with an argument with his step-father that led to police being called, tried to cooperate with the robbers, but grew concerned that one of the robbers was going to shoot the clerk behind the counter. He had his 9mm pistol concealed under his shirt, but could and should he use it?
As he stood there, still clutching his Big Gulp and occasionally taking a sip, the 37-year-old man now found himself facing a tough decision: Should he draw the gun?
He ran through the possible consequences: Will I go to jail? Do I have a clear enough shot that no one else will get hurt? Is anyone else in the store? Will someone else pop in? If I don’t do it, is the clerk or someone else going to get shot?
“I’m thinking about all of that and at the same time thinking, you’re supposed to have the right to bear arms, the right to protect yourself, the right to protect others if need be,” he said.
“I’m like ‘Man, you say you believe in the Second Amendment. You say you believe in America. You know God’s got you.’”
That’s when he fired a shot at the robber behind the store counter, hitting him the neck. The second robber then turned and trained his gun on the armed citizen, who fired four more shots, striking and killing the man.
After kicking the gun away from the dead robber, the man told the clerk to call police, then checked on the one behind the counter to take his gun away and see if he needed first aid.
“He was like, ‘How’s my brother?’” the man said. “I remember answering him pretty coldly. I told him, ‘You don’t got a brother no more.’”
The woman at the register had dropped to the floor after the first shot was fired. She was still on the ground shaking uncontrollably, with her hands covering her head, when he went to help her up.
The man, a divorced father of a teenage son and an employee of a medical transport business, was also shaken but tried to remain calm.
He’d never shot anyone before.
Despite never having been in a situation like this before, the 37-year old was calm and collected in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting.
He told the customers who’d been standing by the register to wait for police outside while he and the clerk stayed inside.
“I said to the clerk, ‘Look man, I’m removing the ammunition from my gun,’ and I made sure he knew where all the guns were.
“He was like, ‘Man, you’re my hero. You need a Gatorade or anything? Anytime you come in here, you’re good.’ And I was like, ‘Thanks, but the cops are here now and we got to put our hands up.’”
The officers looked stunned as they surveyed the scene, he said. The man immediately recognized one of them: She’d been among the officers who came to his mother’s and stepfather’s house for the domestic disturbance hours earlier.
“She was about the third one to come around the corner, and her eyes got so big when she saw me,” he said with a laugh. “I was just like, ‘Look lady, I don’t even know how to explain how I got here.’”
“We’re helping each other get through this,” she said. “He knows I’m here if he needs someone to talk to, and I know he’s there for me if I need someone to talk to.”
The man has been using the money from the fundraiser to take care of some debts and “get his life together,” Engel said. He used some to pay for driving school so that he can get his license, and for repairs so his van can pass inspection.
I hope this gentleman’s life continues to get better, and I’m glad that he’s around to live it. Not only were lives saved because he was in that 7-11, it sounds like lives were changed as well.