A 56-year old man on parole was shot and killed by a clerk at a Houston convenience store Monday evening, after the man tried to pass off a counterfeit bill and then attacked the clerk.

KHOU-TV reports the suspect entered the Super Qwik Food Store around 10 p.m. and attempted to use the counterfeit bill to pay for items. The store clerk recognized the bill as a fake and refused to accept the phony $20, and that’s when the suspect pulled a gun.

Police believe the gunman fired at least one shot, missing the clerk by just inches.

That’s when the clerk pulled out a gun of his own.

“Luckily and fortunately for the convenience store clerk, he had a gun with him. He was able to return fire,” said Sgt. Horn with the Houston Police Department. “The suspect or the robber collapsed here at the store. He was transported to the hospital where he died later.”

Police said the suspect was struck by gunfire multiple times. Investigators at the scene said the situation would be treated as a robbery.

The clerk was not hurt, Horn said.

“He’s very fortunate to be alive right now. We’re thinking that the bullet that the robber or suspect fired was only a few inches away from him.”

A quick aside- thank you to Sgt. Horn for actually acknowledging that this was a far better outcome than the clerk being murdered because they couldn’t defend themselves against the armed robber. I sure hope that the sergeant doesn’t get in trouble with Chief Art Acevedo for his comments, because I know how much the chief dislikes law-abiding gun owners who actually believe the Second Amendment means what it says.

Anyway, back to the story. KHOU reports that the 56-year old suspect, who’s name has not yet been released, was out on parole for what the station describes only as a “similar crime” that took place last summer. Was it a simple, non-violent attempt to pass counterfeit money that we’re talking about, or an attempted armed robbery? If it was a case of using a fake $20, I can understand the suspect being out on parole. If we’re talking about another robbery, however, then Houston residents are entitled to know exactly why this suspect was so quickly returned to the streets instead of being sent to prison.

Either way, it seems pretty clear that the clerk is alive today because he had a firearm to defend himself. It’s too bad he had to use it, but the fact that he was armed meant he was able to walk out the door of the convenience store at the end of his shift instead of being carried out on a stretcher.