Hani “Sonny” Salha was working his shift at the In & Out Mini Mart in Yakima, WA, Sunday night at approximately 9:00 PM when two armed men entered the store.
The store employee noticed the men on his surveillance camera and watched as they put bandannas over their faces in the store parking lot and prepared for the worst case scenario, grabbing his .40-cal Smith & Wesson.
Since Salha wasn’t interested in becoming a victim of armed robbery, when the masked robbers entered the store and demanded money at gunpoint, Salha took aim and shot twice, causing both suspects to flee the scene.
Salha immediately called the police, and neighbors also came to the store to check on Salha and to offer assistance.
Because the men fled, it was unknown if they were shot. Police spokesman Mike Bastinelli described the men as being “18 to 24 years old, and anywhere from 5 feet 3 inches to 5 foot 8 inches tall, wearing beanies and bandannas.”
Since 2003, citizens of Washington State do not have a duty to retreat, as long as they are somewhere they have a right to be.
Using lethal force and defending oneselves or another person, if faced with imminent threat to life is legal. Using lethal force to defend property is not. Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said: “Details of each case have to be examined to determine if use of lethal force was justifiable.”
Yakima Police Capt. Jeff Schneider said: “Police prefer that people just give a robber what he is asking for, rather than resist and possibly escalate the situation.” Brusic seems to be in agreement, stating “it’s safer to give them what they want”.
During a recent home invasion the perpetrator was shot by the occupant of the home. “It’s good to see business owners and homeowners fighting back,” Salha said.
Sunday night’s shooting is still under investigation, but police have not charged Salha at this time.