Police in Memphis say that one armed robbery suspect was shot and killed, another is in custody, and a third man is on the run after attempting to hold up a Dollar General store on the city’s southeast side Tuesday morning only to be met with gunfire from an armed customer.
Officers responded to the Dollar General in the city’s Hickory Hills neighborhood around 10:30 Tuesday morning, and when they arrived they found one of the three suspects still at the scene of the crime.
While three armed people robbed the business, someone saw the crime happening and shot at the robbers, police said.
One of the suspects was hit by the gunfire and the other two took off, according to police.
The suspect who was shot was rushed to Regional One but died from his injuries, police said.
FOX 13 reports that the armed citizen was “detained at the scene” by arriving officers but that no charges have been announced.
The initial news reports are understandably light on specifics, but it would be more unusual for police to not detain the armed citizen while they’re questioned about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, so I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that they were kept at the scene while the initial investigation took place. Based on the limited information available to date, however, it sounds like the armed citizen would have been justified in using deadly force in defense of himself or others if the suspects were actively engaged in a robbery using weapons of their own.
Some Dollar General employees have criticized the company for what they maintain is a lack of security in stores, though the company maintains that armed robberies are a problem that’s plaguing all kinds of retailers, not just their own stores.
“We care deeply about our associates and the communities we serve. Safety is a top priority for Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, and we work in close partnership with local authorities and law enforcement to implement best practices,” said a spokesperson in a statement to Inside Edition. “As the retail industry experiences an escalation in violence and crime, we have been working diligently to implement enhanced safety policies, procedures and training to protect our more than 200,000 associates who build their careers with us and the more than 100 million customers who rely on us for the essentials they need.”
A spokesperson for Dollar General also responded to Inside Edition, saying: “Dollar General is not the cause of violent crime. Unfortunately, because of our scale and like most other retailers, we are not immune to acts of violence, including gun violence. The vast majority of incidents contained in the GVA database did not occur within a Dollar General store, but rather in its vicinity, and have no connection to our business other than proximity. However, even according to this database, and despite the fact that we are located within 5 miles of approximately 75% of the U.S. population, gun-related incidents have occurred in and around less than ~2% of our nearly 20,000 stores since 2014.”
I do appreciate Dollar General calling out the Gun Violence Archive for what appears to be deceptive labeling of where exactly these crimes took place, especially since they’ve been known to play fast and loose with other statistics, like the number of mass shootings in the United States. The corporation is also right to note that its stores aren’t the cause of violent crime, though it’s fair to ask whether the retailer allows its employees to protect themselves on the job.
There are no “weapons prohibited” signs on the doors of my own local Dollar General, but it’s unclear if Dollar General’s policies prohibit employees carrying on the job. In fact, I emailed the company’s public relations department asking about any applicable policies last year but never received a reply. There have been multiple cases involving store employees using a firearm in self-defense, however, including a clerk in Louisiana who was cleared of all charges by a grand jury in Louisana earlier this year after shooting a robbery suspect during what the clerk described as the sixth armed robbery at the location in just four months.
I’ve sent Dollar General another email today asking for clarification on their policies for both customers and employees, and I’ll report back what, if anything, I hear from the retailer. I’ll also keep my eyes peeled for any additional information on today’s robbery in Memphis and will provide an update if and when Memphis police or prosecutors in Shelby County announce the results of their investigation.