Toilet Paper Tussle Leads To Guns Being Drawn

Police in Atlantic, Iowa say one man’s under arrest and another’s been ruled to have acted in self-defense after an argument over toilet paper got out of hand at a local dollar store.

Authorities were called to the Dollar General in the southwestern Iowa town on reports of a male displaying a firearm, but when authorities arrived they actually learned that two individuals had pulled guns; one as an aggressor and one in self-defense.

Officials were called to the business that day after a call came in that involve a male displaying a weapon, and those involved said the incident started when one individual gave the other party grief over the amount of personal products being purchased. This lead to an argument between the two that escalated to a point where one of the subjects, Jeptha Vestal, 45, of Atlantic, displayed a weapon.

Upon reviewing the incident and the store video, the County Attorney determined that Vestal was the initial aggressor and that he acted in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to feel threatened with imminent violence. The County Attorney further determined that the individual who displayed the gun was acting within his rights under Iowa’s statutes regarding self-defense and defense of others. Fortunately, the situation quickly deescalated with no injuries. Vestal has been charged with disorderly conduct, a simple misdemeanor.

I’m glad to see that no one was hurt in the incident, but Vestal never should have pulled a gun to begin with. I don’t care if someone’s walking through the store with every roll of toilet paper in their cart. You want to say something snarky to them? Fine. Alert the manager? Okay. Chances are that once they got to the check out, whoever had loaded up their cart with toilet paper was going to be told that they could only buy so much.

I’m actually surprised that Vestal was charged simply with disorderly conduct and not a more serious crime. The news reports don’t indicate if police in Atlantic, Iowa are worried about coronavirus spreading in their jail, but that would be the most likely explanation as to why Vestal isn’t facing more significant charges after threatening a shopper with his gun.

Thankfully, Vestal’s intended victim was also armed and able to protect themselves, and it sounds like the presence of a firearm in the hands of that armed citizen was enough to de-escalate the situation at the Dollar General. Things may be getting a little crazy out there at the moment, which is all the more reason why people need to be able to protect themselves.