Virginia has gone off the deep end in a lot of ways over the last year or so. That’s not overly surprising with a governor like Ralph Northam at the helm. In fact, we’ve seen a lot of stupid from them that I wouldn’t have even thought was possible a couple of years ago.
Yet even then, self-defense is still a clear human right. No one should be arrested for defending themselves, right?
In today’s Virginia, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be true.
An employee temporarily sleeping in Arlington Smoke Shop in Arlington, Virginia, was arrested early Sunday morning on three charges related to him firing a weapon—one that his boss had supplied to him—at burglars who had broken into the store. He ended up wounding one of the three burglars—a juvenile.
As Arlington Now reports, “Police say a group of three suspects broke into [the] store…and began stealing cash and merchandise.” According to police reports, 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah then “opened the door to the sales floor and discharged the weapon, striking one juvenile subject. The employee retreated to the back room but reentered the sales floor and discharged his weapon again as the subjects were attempting to flee the business.”
The other two burglars escaped on foot, and Abushariah was arrested and charged with malicious wounding, reckless handling of a firearm, and violation of a protective order, as the shooter was, according to police, under a previous order to not legally possess a firearm. Conviction on all three charges could lead to him spending up to 25 years in prison.
Now, it’s true that if you’re under a protective order, you’re not supposed to have a firearm. At least, in theory.
However, you would think that if you’re acting in self-defense, it wouldn’t be a problem. Especially as it wasn’t his gun. Yet the presence of the other two charges tells us that the authorities aren’t ruling this a justified self-defense shooting. I mean, they’re calling it “reckless handling of a firearm.”
Abushariah’s boss, however, is less than pleased.
Jowan Zuber, the owner of the store, took to Tucker Carlson Tonight last night to decry the police’s actions. “The neighbor upstairs said when they broke the window it sounded like a car smashing into the store. The employee said it sounded like a shotgun,” he said to Carlson. “It’s very sad for America today as American citizens practice their Second Amendment to protect the store and their lives….Do you know what the [responding] police officer told [Abushariah]? ‘Why didn’t you run out the back door?’”
According to Zuber, he was not able to post the $25,000 bond for his employee, as it was successfully “appealed by the prosecutor.” It’s always dangerous to be in jail or prison, for whatever reason, and especially so in the age of COVID-19, something that prosecutors might want to consider more soberly.
It doesn’t help that the prosecutor–someone who normally makes a big deal about transparent policing–is playing the whole “I know things that you don’t” card.
So, what gives?
Well, much as I hate to say it, I think Abushariah’s kind of screwed here. While he may have been sleeping there, the smoke shop doesn’t count as a residence. From a legal standpoint, burglary of a business doesn’t get viewed the same as burglary of a home with regard to the use of force. The argument is that business burglaries happen when people are believed to not be there are rarely result in homicides if the criminal is wrong. Home invasions are a different matter entirely.
Because of that, despite Abushariah residing in the store for the time being, it’s unlikely prosecutors would treat it the same as if his home was being broken into. (Virginia is still a Stand Your Ground state, for the record.)
Further, there’s case law noted at the above link that that found that you couldn’t use a firearm to protect property, only life. That only makes things worse for Abushariah.
Then there’s this whole thing about him being under a protective order. No, we don’t know what that’s about and while the prosecutor claims that talking about it would be unfair to Abushariah, my guess is that it would really do something to upend her case. It doesn’t matter, though, because it’s another data point against him.
Now, should he be facing these charges? Probably not. The truth is that we don’t really know if these thugs knew he was in there or not. We also know that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he would have faced a significant degree of violence.
Further, I’ve never been a fan of people who are “victims” while committing crimes. I mean, sure, it might be different if Abushariah clubbed him upside the head and chained him in the basement to make him a sex slave or something, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. No, Abushariah fired the gun his boss provided him to defend the life he thought was endangered, namely his own.