It must have seemed like the perfect opportunity for a robbery; a lone truck driver on the side of the road late at night, focused on repairing his ride and not paying much attention to his surroundings. But the decision to rob that driver in Hillsborough County, Florida had fatal consequences for one man, who was shot by the driver in self-defense late Tuesday evening.
According to authorities, deputies were dispatched to the scene of a shooting around 11 p.m. in the Tampa suburb of Seffner, and when they arrived they found the driver shaken but unharmed.
Based on preliminary information, investigators say they believe the driver was trying to repair his broken-down truck when he was approached by a man who demanded various valuable items.
“The driver handed him several items, and the man walked away,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a press release.
But, authorities say the alleged thief came back.
“Minutes later, the man walked back toward the driver and demanded his cell phone,” the agency wrote.
“The driver, who was in fear for his life, armed himself with a gun and shot the man.”
After firing the shots, the truck driver called 911 and waited for authorities to arrive. At last report, all indications are that this was a case of self-defense. Though police haven’t confirmed if the robber actually had a firearm on his person, the initial press release states that the suspect “appeared to have a gun in his hand” when he approached the truck driver the second time.
This is at least the second fatal self-defense shooting in the Tampa area in the past two weeks, with another robber shot and killed by his intended victim in late December. In that case, police say that a group of teens, including 16-year old Ian Thomas, shot and robbed a man at a Tampa park before the victim fought back.
The man responded to the robbery by firing his “legally-owned and properly-permitted” concealed gun, which fatally struck Thomas, the Tampa Police Department said.
When officers arrived, they said both the suspects and the robbery victim [had] fled the area. The man who shot Thomas was later found at a different location and cooperated with detectives. He was later sent to the hospital for treatment.
Diagnosing car trouble on the side of the road. Enjoying a warm December day in a local park. Running the counter of your family restaurant. Heck, driving down a busy city street. We can be the targets of violent criminals in even the most mundane circumstances, and the police are rarely if ever going to be in a position to proactively respond to prevent a robbery, carjacking, home invasion, or violent assault from taking place.
Carrying a gun doesn’t make you invincible. There’s no guarantee that you’ll even be able to use your firearm in self-defense if you’re attacked. But it’s also clear that the individuals highlighted above could very well have ended up as homicide victims were it not for the fact that they did have a gun on them and were prepared and able to act to save their own lives.
As long as there are predators out there eager and willing to prey on those they see as easy targets, the rest of us owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to be in a position to fight back if possible. I hate that these gentlemen were put in the position of having to shoot their attackers, but I’m thankful that these armed citizens were able to survive their encounters because they were exercising their right to bear arms.