Defensive Gun Use of the Day (Maybe): Lie in Wait in Edition

 Krick's Korner, scene of double homicide (courtesy

“All reported cases of criminal gun use, as well as many of the so-called self-defense gun uses, appear to be socially undesirable.” That’s the bottom line from Harvard’s David Hemenway and Deborah Azrael in their study Violence and Victims. Lumping criminal acts with “so-called defensive gun uses” seems a bit churlish, to say the least. But that’s how our David rolls. After reading and analyzing the literature on DGUs, the Cambridge resident reckons there are “only” 55k to 80k “real” defensive gun uses per year in the U.S. That still works out to 150 per day. I wonder what Davey would make of this one . . .

Police said the two suspects, who have not yet been identified, entered Krick’s Korner at Ninth and Exeter streets about 2 p.m., pointed guns at the store owner and demanded cash.

It was unclear if the men got any cash but police said they fled the store with lottery tickets and cigarettes and ran into a man who was leaving an apartment located in the same building as the store.

“He came outside and heard the clerk and knew something was wrong,” said Reading police Sgt. John M. Solecki.

According to the story from PA’s, the unidentified armed American had cause to think there were crooks in Krick’s Korner. “Carmella Chipperfield, who lives nearby, said robberies are common at the store.” So he called 911 right? It sure doesn’t seem so. Instead . . .

The man noticed that the suspects were armed and wearing masks, so he decided to wait outside the store, police said. When the suspects exited the store the man pulled out his own weapon and shot the two men.

One suspect, wearing black sweat pants, a red sweat suit-type jacket and a tan mask, fell dead in a crosswalk just outside the front door of the store. The second suspect, dressed in all black and still wearing a mask, ran about 20 feet south on Moss Street before collapsing in the street. [Dead.]

Question: was that a defensive gun use? Or an offensive (tactically speaking) gun use?

We can and should debate whether or not the man who lay in wait for the robbers should have been doing so. But the chances are he was in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm when the perps exited the Korner shop, guns in hand (presumably) and saw their not-so-neighborly-neighbor. So . . . what?

While you’re mulling that over, riddle me this: what if the good guy—and I’m sticking with that—had shot a clerk or customer who came running out of the store at the same time as the bad guys? What if the cops had shot the good guy?

Quite aside from a not-without-merit charge of vigilantism there are many ways this could have gone wrong. The best thing to do in these situations: be a good, hidden witness. Take careful note of the bad guys appearance and behavior. Call 911. And then, at some point, go home. Otherwise you risk being part of an unacknowledged category of defensive uses I call “unintentional fouls.” [h/t JH]


  1. avatar mlopilato says:

    If the police can shoot my dog, this man can shoot two rats.

    1. avatar Pat says:


  2. avatar Matt in FL says:

    While it initially looked like this would end badly for the guy, it isn’t going to turn out that way.

    Two men, both armed with guns and wearing masks, had just left the store with stolen cigarettes and lottery tickets when they were confronted by the “concerned citizen,” telling both suspects that he was going to call police and advising them to stay where they were, said Berks County District Attorney John Adams. A brief scuffle ensued, during which the suspects pulled out their guns, Adams said. The citizen then pulled out his gun, for which he had a license to carry, and shot both suspects, said Adams, who personally reviewed surveillance video of the scene. The man who fired the shots remained on the scene and surrendered his gun when officers arrived, said Adams, adding that he doesn’t expect to file criminal charges because it appears the man “acted justifiably under the law.”


    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      NBC News reported yesterday that he’d been arrested for investigation of murder.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Got a source on that? The only thing I can find about anyone being arrested in connection with this is this story, which talks about them arresting the getaway driver late last night, and he’s now facing conspiracy charges, and officials added second degree murder and robbery charges Tuesday morning.

        That story also reiterates: The Berks County DA says he does not expect to file charges against the concerned citizen.

      2. avatar William Burke says:

        Wishful thinking is NBC’s modus operandi. I remember numerous segments of the TODAY Show in the 70’s with some sort of bogus “expert” who “demonstrated” that rock music’s “anapaestic beat” makes kids go all weak. Not to mention NBC was always the most strident with bogus “facts” about the dangers of marijuana.

  3. avatar Lothaen says:

    Ahhh Reading PA.

    I must say the citizenry of Berks County are so tired of such robberies that they would likely string up the DA if he decided to press charges.

    There would be a riot. On TWO sides.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      Yep, Reading is special. According to the Census Bureau and PBS it is the city with the highest fraction in the nation of residents living below the poverty line (low estimate 29%, high estimate 38%). When I was a child it was a very safe city, but now is extremely crime-ridden. For the literary minded, it was the birthplace of both Wallace Stevens and John Updike.

      1. avatar Andy says:

        It’s also 60% Latino. When the spics show up things get poor, dirty, dangerous, and stupid.

        1. Avoiding the “spic” comment would be good. Though I don’t deny, too much multiculturalism yields to those outside groups replicating their native countries customs in force.

          Just like too much water can kill you , so are foreign culture groups. So “spic” comment aside, I agree.

  4. avatar PeterC says:

    Obviously, the shooter overreacted. He should have lectured the robbers on the error of their ways and offered to pray with them. Now they are dead and will longer have the opportunity to apply for Obamacare, although they will still be able to vote for Democrat candidates.

    1. avatar ErrantVenture11 says:


    2. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      If Obama had a son. . . .

      1. avatar Conway Redding says:

        At it again, eh, Dirk? Does the news story mention that the two miscreants were African-American? ln fact, neither one was. I think, Dirk, your comment is another example of what I perceive to be your racial bias Those interested can see the story in more detail, including pix of the dead felons, at the following link:

        1. avatar BStacks says:

          🙂 wait for it… wait for it…

        2. avatar Brock says:

          ….. Still waiting. Dirk don’t leave us hanging here buddy.

        3. avatar William Burke says:

          Dear Conway: Dirk Diggler is an African-American. Now go play in the sandbox with the other kids.

      2. avatar William Burke says:

        Right ON, Dirkster!

    3. avatar Roscoe says:


    4. avatar jmama says:

      Ha! That was a good one.

  5. avatar ST says:

    Calling 911 during a fight is like calling the insurance company during a car accident.Neither action changes the fact that you are compelled to deal with the crisis on your own.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “Calling 911 during a fight is like calling the insurance company during a car accident.”

      That is perhaps the best one liner ever that dismantles the civilian disarmament movement. I will shamelessly use that whenever possible.

      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Quite so.

  6. avatar Aaron J says:

    Based on the two different accounts of the incident I’ve read, this seems lots less like a DGU and more like double murder. Although one report did say that in his initial approach of the suspects, he yelled “stop” and “I’m calling the police”, which is what prompted the robbers to draw their guns on him. It is within a citizen’s rights to stop another in the commission of a felony, so it’s really gonna come down to the finer details of exactly how it unfolded.

    1. Could you please supply a link to the account that made it sound like murder? I would like to review it.


      1. avatar Matt in FL says:

        Hey Dean. The link in the post above is the story that made it sound that way, but you should know that they’ve edited it since it was posted. Here’s the pull quote I sent to RF and Dan last night:

        …a man who was leaving an apartment located in the same building as the store. … The man noticed that the suspects were armed and wearing masks, so he decided to wait outside the store, police said. When the suspects exited the store the man pulled out his own weapon and shot the two men.

        Here’s the quote as it exists in that story now:

        …was leaving a nearby apartment building… The man decided to wait outside the store until the robbers exited through the front door, and then shot both men once each in the chest area after being threatened by them, Adams said. The robbers drew their guns on the concerned citizen before being shot, Adams said.

        See the difference? They don’t note that the story has been edited, but it has been. The original version made it sound like he laid in wait and shot them in the back. It didn’t have the details of the challenge, the warning, or the perp’s own guns.

        1. Good job. I just found the exact same thing.

    2. avatar Andy says:

      And that’s why you’re not the DA.

  7. avatar Tommy says:

    Vigilantes go looking for trouble. this man was in the right place to assist his fellow man.

    Or for evil to exist good men need only to call the police and walk away.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Yes. This.

  8. avatar gs650g says:

    Those 2 were probably known to police. The officers saw who was vented and shrugged. I bet each was released many times.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      The same way the Sun is known to Sunflowers.

  9. Felony in progress, there is an argument for justified use.

    As far as David Hemenway goes, keep in mind that for him it is not a defensive gun use unless there is a dead criminal body, and the case goes to court AND is ruled ‘justified’.

  10. The account that I read was that he lived above the store, was in some way informed of what was going on, and told the men to wait for police. They tried to draw on him, but he was better trained and prepared, and killed them both before they could kill him.

    Hard to see of a more clearcut case of justifiable homicide than that.

  11. avatar 505markf says:

    I am sure that this is the kind of DGU that a gun-control activist would decry as “vigilantism”. I say, fine, if you’d rather use a different term, call this event “evolution in action.”

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      More like “Positive Natural Selection.”

      1. avatar Bruce B. says:

        Paul Kersey calls it a good shoot.

  12. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    Good reason to use a revolver. Just walk away.

    1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

      Dug up the link to S&W Model 29 in .44mag. Ain’t no question gonna come out the winner.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        Why are you bringing this up? Did the good guy use one of these revolvers?

        If so, cool. If not, then whatever he did use worked perfectly and this is just a random revolver reference.

        But still, that S&W Model 29 is one cool gun. I wouldn’t mind owning one.

        1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

          Ain’t you never seen Dirty Harry in the dinner scene? Geeze what short memories people have.

        2. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

          Here, I’ll help you out. There was a whole world before the iPhone….

        3. avatar Ing says:

          Chalk it up to a short memory. Or weak associations. I didn’t know guns from nothing the last time I saw the Dirty Harry diner scene.

  13. avatar gloomhound says:

    You should do what you think is best.

    As for myself, I applaud him for taking a stand against those that were preying on his neighborhood. I think this country needs more men such as this.

  14. avatar Bob says:

    Defensive gun use for sure…in defense of society. 2 dead criminals = better society.

    I’m not saying I’d have done it (I doubt it will be worth his grief) but I certainly won’t lament their deaths.

    BTW, for those that haven’t been there, Reading is a weeping sh!thole. Burn it flat and replant trees.

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      I take it the store was out of skittles and watermelon flavored tea?

      1. avatar Ing says:



      2. avatar Piet Padkos says:

        What, no fried chickity?

    2. avatar ropingdown says:

      Though the citizen appears to have acted properly, and therefore to be in the clear, we won’t actually know for at least two years whether Eric Holder intends to initiate a Civil Rights action against Mr. Chipperfield.

  15. avatar Danny says:

    If someone, a witness, sees you committing a crime, especially while armed, you have forfeited your right to live in most cases. That is the best way to scare people from committing crimes when even pickpocketing can lead to instant justice.

  16. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Christ, what is this? No one remembers how to use Google?,0,2179740.story

    Here we have a case of a friend of the store’s owner (who obviously would have recognized the owner) coming to the aid of his buddy. As soon as the thugs pointed their guns at the shooter, that’s it, the legal grounds on which the shooter could justify lethal force.

    NB that the DA reviewed a video, which has not yet been released, in making his determination.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Looks like this happened exactly as it should have.

      Armed neighbor comes to the aid of his friend, who is being robbed at gunpoint. Points his gun at the thugs and tells them to stop right there while he calls the police. Thugs point their guns at him, apparently mistaking themselves for the misunderstood heroes of a gangster flick. The armed citizen shoots them dead.

      A win for everyone. This is why peaceful people should carry guns.

      Only two ways this could have turned out better:
      1 – The store clerk or owner, being armed themselves, drop the criminals as soon as they darken the door
      2 – The now deceased thugs somehow develop a functioning conscience and decide not to rob anyone in the first place.

  17. avatar great unknown says:

    I note the use of the word “vigilantism” in an apparently negative way. What exactly is wrong with vigilantism? It seems to be a knee-jerk derogatory term used by statists, just like “racist”.

    I’m surprised to see it used in such a manner in this post.

    1. avatar ropingdown says:

      Agree. Coming to the aid of a friend being victimized, going to his aid during the commission of a crime, is not vigilantism. If the shooter, acting without legal authority, had pursued the criminals to bring them by force to justice, or to impose retribution, rather than being accosted by them as they left the building, that would be vigilantism.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      To statists and big government fluffers, a “vigilante” is someone who, by taking responsibility for his own safety, proves that we don’t need police.

      Ergo, such people need to be belittled, accused in the court of public opinion of being rash, irrational and out of control.

  18. avatar Nova says:

    Any chance the video will be released so we can make pur own opinions?

  19. avatar Ralph says:

    Harvard’s campus newspaper and the school’s sports teams are called “Crimson” for a reason. The school has gone totally red, and conservative thought is not wanted.

    So when I see a printed “study” written by anyone who has anything to do with Harvard, I set it aside for hard times when toilet paper may be in short supply.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      There is no school who has debased themselves so thoroughly in the field of intellectual pursuit as Harvard. A significant cohort of those admitted to the school are not there on merit, they’re there because of who knocked up mommy. These are known as the “legacies.” It’s about 15% of the incoming class, from what I’ve read.

      It is instructive to NB the absurdly high 4-year graduation rates among the Ivy League. In the 80 to 90% range. Once you’re in, it is obviously an easy time. Grade inflation is rampant.

      As long as your politics are “correct,” you can get an easy slide at Ivy League schools.

    2. avatar Lazer says:

      You gotta love how they claim not to be a threat to the United States, and the whole article is essentially about how they don’t want anyone saying a bad word about them. Apparently they don’t even bother with any of the constitution over there…

      BTW I went to UC Santa Cruz for 2 years (more like a year and a half got distracted actually working) and its the same sh*t there. As far as I can tell the rest of the UC system is right there with them, and is a complete waste of time and money IMO. I had a professor who would literally cut me and the one other sane kid there off at the beginning of any sentence that he thought might challenge him. And this was during discussions of An Inconvienient Truth and another about how the world should all be vegetarian, taking up like 2 1/2 weeks of a Quarter long class that was supposed to be writing research papers about Africa. I tried to ask him something along the lines of “Well if cows are one of the biggest producers of methane, and we’re going to also stop eating them and be a healthier vegetarian society, then what are you going to do? Mass slaughter of all cows? I had to try to poke at him any way I could, because somewhere in the middle of the question he dismissed it with ‘that’s just silly’ or some other bullshit and continued hashing out his plan to save the world with the rest of the class. I also tried to ask why I shouldn’t have my Chevy Tahoewith at I actually use to tow a boat and go to the mountains, because this guy said so while driving around his own cattle ranch walking distance from a mansion in a fckn excursion. Apparently that’s all irrelevant.

      I catch myself wondering how my generation can claim to love their freedom so much, and fight so hard for everything that opposes it and not even have a clue. Then I remember that a lot of them went to schools just like mine and bought right into it.

  20. avatar JPD says:

    “Quite aside from a not-without-merit charge of vigilantism there are many ways this could have gone wrong. The best thing to do in these situations: be a good, hidden witness. Take careful note of the bad guys appearance and behavior. Call 911. And then, at some point, go home. Otherwise you risk being part of an unacknowledged category of defensive uses I call “unintentional fouls.” [h/t JH]”

    NOPE, totally agree with the actions of the citizen. Totally DISAGREE with your last paragraph.

    With the dozens of armed robberies these two were likely to commit in the career, plus how many potential victims harmed?

    Speculation can work both ways. Let’s stick to the facts. 2 bad guys, armed. 1 good guy, armed. Total cost to society to eliminate 2 violent criminals $1.00 (cost of two .45 cal rounds)

    1. avatar TNMike says:

      I agree.

  21. avatar Harry Balscz says:

    I’m all for evaluating each case individually, but in this one, all the good guys are OK and neither of the bad guys will be preying on the citizens of this town ever again – problem solved, end of story.

  22. avatar Pete says:

    Well you don’t wait outside and shoot people in the back. I think it’s clear that’s not what happened though.

  23. avatar MDC says:

    Well if they did get away and had some substancial winnngs on those lottery tickets,an investigation would insue.Store worker/owner has to activate the pack of tickets thru machine with state,which are now traceable.If perps get’s someone else to cash out,over 500.00,they need to fill out form and provide ID.Also most stores have video as well.Now that is not full proof but nobody said these bad guys are smart.

  24. avatar Jeff says:

    The tactic employed here is a standard play for police. Cops don’t go charging into a robbery–they wait outside and shoot the bad guys when they emerge.

    Sadly, we know that what is good for the geese isn’t necessarily good for the gander. Juries will allow cops to do things that they won’t permit the rest of us to do. Right or wrong, that’s reality.

    I don’t know what I would have done. But I know that if I ever meet this shooter, the first beer is on me.

  25. avatar TNMike says:

    I grew up in Birdsboro (10 mi away), & my parents said the shooter (like the man in the Thun Trail incident) is being called a hero in the local news. I agree, & they agree: he is. They threatened to take a life, & they unfortunately lost their chance to pursue their own life, liberty & happiness, so fuck ’em. Minus two assholes.

  26. avatar Bob Fairlane says:

    Harvard is a jewish & marxist country club.

  27. avatar Senior Veteran says:

    I read the comments and agree with the smart folks who see the DGU as proper when the criminal idiot scum pointed their weapons at him, and he killed them both!

    I am pleased and proud to live in this society of good guys who take charge of the space
    around us! I, too, wish to buy the good guy a beer, and thank him for being a hero!

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