By Mark Ching
In 1998, an armed robber shot Annie Williams in the chest. Fortunately, the plucky store owner survived. Her husband Wilford, who co-owns three Roanoke, Virginia, grocery stores, said at the time “We have to make a living, but we’re planning to take more precautions.” Last Thursday, another armed robber found out just what those added precautions were . . .
Wilford was working the register at the Annwil Grocery when the felon entered the store just before midnight, shoved a gun in Williams’ face and told him to step away from the register. That’s when Williams pulled his own gun, fired once and, though he apparently didn’t hit the miscreant, the gunman took off like a scared jackrabbit and is still at large.
Two details of this story stand out. First, Wilford didn’t realized he had pulled the trigger. When interviewed by a local TV station, he claims the whole brouhaha went down so fast, he couldn’t remember firing a shot. But the police report says otherwise. The bullet hole in the wall and urine puddle on the floor (OK, the puddle wasn’t in the report) may have tipped them off.
The second point of interest is the support his customers have given him. Virginia is a generally gun-friendly state anyway, but the area of Roanoke served by the three Annwil stores is overwhelmingly African-American and Democrat-voting. (It should be noted that the city as a whole routinely stands out as a spot of blue in a sea of red.) And yet, it seems that Williams’ customers and neighbors get it. An upstanding entrepreneur and crime victim using a gun to defend his life and property? Gee, maybe guns aren’t just for thugs after all.
“I think he did the right thing ‘cause sometimes you don’t get a second chance,” said a customer who was interviewed. Fortunately, Annie Williams got a second chance. And Wilford Williams didn’t squander it.