Justice or Injustice?  You Tell Me!


A week or so ago, I watched a film clip on YouTube where a masked robber came into a fast-food restaurant at about 11:30 PM.  He pulled a gun and robbed each of the patrons at gunpoint of their meager earnings.  I jumped up and applauded.  “Way to go.  The SOB got what he deserved.  No jury in the country would convict the “hero” who shot him.”

It was a symphony of justice.  The good guy’s win, and the bad guys lose.  One dissonant note was that I noticed the “hero” picked up the perp’s gun and apparently finding out that it was plastic threw it across the tables at the wall.  He then distributed the money taken by the perp back to the diners.  After this generous gesture, he left the diner in a beat up old pick-up truck.  A few days later a lawyer for the “hero” called the police.

Our “hero” shot the perp nine times.  Over the next few days, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike announced that there would not likely be any charges against the “hero.”  It was a plain case of “self-defense.”  I watched the video several more times.  Each time I watched it, I had a sinking feeling.  My initial thoughts over the glamor of a Gotterdammerung experience slowly morphed into a different perspective.  I want to share with you this perspective.  However, before I do, I must give you some caveats.

  1. I am not a pacifist. Never have been and never will be.  You try to hurt me or anyone I love; I will do my best to protect them even if it means hurting you.
  2. I am a gun owner. I collect folding knives.  I love to shoot and there is something magic about guns that I find intriguing.  I love the symmetry of a beautiful knife or an 1858 Remington New Army black powder revolver.
  3. I am not a bleeding heart liberal. I am not a progressive or a conservative.  I belong to no tribe or party.  I think for myself.  I don’t follow any script or drummer.  If you read my blogs, you will find this to be a valid statement.

Thus, very peculiarly, I started to think about the perp in this case.  He was a 30-year-old Black man (Eric Eugene Washington) with a history of jail time and violence.  He had a long record for his age, and it would not appear that he was doing much good for the world.  On the face of it, his death was no big loss for society.  Some might argue that he got what he deserved before he hurt any more people.

I watched an interview with his mother.  She was broken hearted, but she did not really support him with the usual banter of “what a good kid he was.”  She seemed astounded that he did what he did but she did not deny that the shooting was justified.  She expressed forgiveness for the “hero” but questioned why he had to shoot her son nine times.  I wondered this myself.

During the following days new coverage of this event, I watched more attorneys explain that the nine shots were justified because our “hero” had to be sure that the threat was neutralized.  Made me wonder how many bullets it takes to neutralize someone who is laying face down on the floor.  Made me think of the villages in Vietnam that we had to “neutralize.”

I asked myself what I would have done in this situation.  Face it.  The perp’s gun looked real.  It was a combat situation.  Combat is always stressful, and no one knows what they will do until it happens.  If someone had robbed me at gunpoint of my wallet, under stress and being really pissed, I might have unloaded all my rounds into his body.  I can’t say I would not have done exactly what our “hero” did.  However, this is where things change for me.

We could ask another set of questions.  Not what would I have done, but what do I wish I had done if I was the “hero”?  What do I think I should have done?  I give you the following two answers to these questions.

  1. I would have liked to stand up facing the fleeing perp and with my gun pointing directly at him say, “Drop your gun or you are dead.” If the perp did not follow through on my order, I would probably blast him with at least three rounds center target to “neutralize” the threat.  If he dropped his gun, I would order him down on the floor and cover him until the cops came.  I know this sounds like police procedure but that is one scenario I think would have been justified and perhaps resulted in the loss of no life.  Would the risk to my own life have been worth the extra effort?  Maybe that is what a real “hero” does.  In my mind, a “hero” risks his or her own life for others.  Perhaps even when they do not deserve it.
  2. In my second scenario, I do nothing. Not out of cowardice or fear.  I do nothing because I value a human life more than money.  Was this one life worth the few dollars that he robbed from the other patrons?  What kind of a world do we want to live in?  Do we want a world that values money more than people?  If the world is moving in that direction as the case may seem to indicate, it is a sad commentary.  I am not sure I want to live in such a place.  As I am 76 years old, I might not have to worry about it much longer.

So, there you have it folks.  I feel sorry for the mother of the victim and those who loved him.  I feel sorry that the victim did not get at least one more chance.  I am glad that none of the diners were injured and that they got their money back.  I am sure many of these people needed their money at least as much as our perp.

I also feel sorry for a society where money matters so much to all of us that we are ready, willing, and able to kill for it.

You can watch a video of the shooting at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxKYHntHjAg

Leave your comments.  Let me know what you think.  What would you have done? 


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wayne Woodman
    Jan 16, 2023 @ 15:31:34

    As a Canadian, handguns have never been part of my life but for most of my life I was a hunter and did kill animals for food. I am not a religious or christian person but believe all life is precious and thus would not contemplate killing someone. However, I would hope that if my life or anyone’s life was threatened, I would have the courage to act to help prevent that. However, if it was a matter of money or life the money could be relinquished.
    I do not believe anyone should have the right to carry a lethal weapon. In my opinion that right automatically gives the right to use it but that is another discussion for sure.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jan 16, 2023 @ 15:38:39

      Wayne, I appreciate your comments. I am also against public carry of firearms, concealed or otherwise. I think they should be under lock and key and signed out to individuals as a need for hunting or shooting competitions would dictate. They should certainly be registered and large volume clips should be banned. When a six year old can get a gun and shoot a teacher, something is wrong with the country. I stopped hunting years ago but do not deny that many people up where we lived in Wisconsin actually depended on deer meat to supplement their diet. Of course, there were and are the people that simply enjoy the killing which is very sad. However, our TV and movies exhort violence. OSHO said that people thrive on violence. Witness football games and some other contact sports. John

      Liked by 2 people


      • Wayne Woodman
        Jan 16, 2023 @ 16:01:01

        Agreed John on many points but I’m not sure if violence has actually increased since the advent of tv and violent shows. From my readings of history, violence has always been a large part of our existence whether attributable to testosterone or greed and I’m not sure either will be going away anytime soon.
        Not that I’m up for this research but I think it might be illuminating to compare personal violent attacks in different countries using the methods available. Certainly from the overflow news I get here in Canada the U S seems to be on a particularly violent surge?
        The degrees of violence may be vastly different but is there really any difference in the Ukraine vs the remainder of us?



        • Dr. John Persico Jr.
          Jan 16, 2023 @ 18:51:59

          Wayne, there are perhaps no homicide data sets ever created that are not contentious due to a number of factors. It would take a course in statistics to show the problems with homicide data sets. I have found this one site where you can get some idea of the difficulty in interpreting, comparing and drawing any conclusions from the data. As you might be aware, there was a bill passed that scared the CDC from doing research into gun violence for nearly twenty years.

          “The Dickey Amendment is a provision first inserted as a rider into the 1996 omnibus spending bill of the United States federal government that mandated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

          “The amendment was lobbied for by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and named after its author Jay Dickey, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas. Although the Dickey Amendment did not explicitly ban it, for about two decades the CDC avoided all research on gun violence for fear it would be financially penalized.”

          “In late 2019, Congress reached a deal to fund research on gun violence for the first time in over two decades. Since then, lawmakers have allocated $25 million — split evenly between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health — each year.”

          It will take a long time before we get valid and reliable data on guns and gun violence in the USA. Attempts to compare it to past years is in MHO a total waste of time.

          Click to access dbasse_083892.pdf

          Liked by 1 person


  2. Margaret
    Jan 16, 2023 @ 16:28:18

    Given that in the USA it’s not unusual for individuals to carry guns in public places it puzzles me that the masked robber used a toy gun! Did he not think that someone may have a real one? The ‘hero’ certainly seemed upset to discover it was a toy! I feel rather sorry for ‘hero’ as given the same circumstances who wouldn’t be very afraid and try to defend themselves?
    I also feel sorry for masked robber because he has lost his life through a stupid action that seems not properly thought through.
    If there was strict enforcement on obtaining guns it would have been difficult for this to happen.
    Here in the UK the law doesn’t usually prosecute when defending oneself against assault, although it does depend upon circumstances. For instance, if a robber is shot in the back when walking ‘AWAY’ from your property it would be difficult to support that the householder was in immediate danger of losing your life!
    Sadly we don’t value ‘life’ here either John.
    It’s all about money and self-serving people which I find both immoral and amoral.



  3. Jane Fritz
    Jan 16, 2023 @ 16:49:03

    And I am sorry that you all live in a society where the idea that an average citizen would be in a fast food joint and have a gun on him isn’t even up for discussion. And that he would think to use it, to shoot indiscriminately to stop, in a restaurant. This is so far removed from the same country I grew up in and just happened to leave nearly 60 years ago, it now is no longer recognizable to me. Very sad.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jan 16, 2023 @ 18:41:16

      Yes Jane, The NRA, conservatives, and gun manufacturers have helped to create this fear in the USA and convince people that they can only be safe if well healed. The irony is that the exact opposite is true. Of course, the news likes to show the exceptions so we will be treated to weeks of videos whenever a good guy does manage to “stop” a perp. But at what cost? John

      Liked by 1 person


  4. Ginger Johnson
    Jan 16, 2023 @ 17:12:35

    I have to agree: money isn’t worth killing over. And 9 shots does leave me wondering why.



  5. Majik
    Jan 16, 2023 @ 17:55:14

    “A week or so ago, I watched a film clip on YouTube where a masked robber came into a fast-food restaurant at about 11:30 PM. He pulled a gun and robbed each of the patrons at gunpoint of their meager earnings. I jumped up and applauded. “Way to go. The SOB got what he deserved.” Are you missing a sentence in your first paragraph, John? It appears from the context of the photo and the rest of your post that the patron sitting in the booth pulled his own gun and shot the masked robber in the side or back.

    Without saying anything else on this topic, just look at the innocent patron across the restaurant right in the other patron’s line of fire. YIKES! I’m glad to read that only the armed robber got shot. I too am sorry that he died, but plenty of people, maybe even myself if I gave it more thought, could conclude that “he needed killin'” like they’d say in the Old West.

    We had a similar video from a convenience store attempted armed robbery here in our town which can probably be found with a Google search, but I’m not going to take the time to do it. Last year, a masked armed robber and two accomplices came in the door of a gas station’s convenience store, but the robber with the gun got too close to a customer waiting in line who suddenly grabbed the gun, pointed it upward, and decked the would-be robber with a hard right to the face while the two accomplices ran back out into the night.

    The armed robber was fourteen years old. He lived and got prosecuted as an adult, as did his accomplices who later got caught.

    The quick-acting military veteran who foiled the robbery and was hailed as a hero on nation-wide media in his fifteen minutes of fame wore a “LET’S GO BRANDON!” T-shirt for his television interview.

    THAT’s probably somewhere on YouTube too.



  6. barryh
    Jan 17, 2023 @ 05:12:22

    Wow, it sounds like the Wild West out there, John. Nothing like that goes on in sleepy little ol England! Except when the occasional criminal gang activity happens somewhere like Liverpool. Widespread carrying of gun clearly makes US far more violent.
    A thought does occur to me. What if the punters refused to hand over the money? Should they take the threat seriously? What if everybody there shouted at the guy ‘Just F*** Off’?



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jan 17, 2023 @ 08:53:40

      Barry, this has become a much more violent country. I am afraid to say that I would have taken the perp seriously. A few years ago, at a nearby University in Minnesota, a few students were coming home from some kind of a sporting event. They were stopped by a guy with a gun who demanded their wallets. One of the students refused to hand over his wallet and the guy shot him dead. Cold blooded murder. Did you notice in the video tape, that the “Hero” did hand over some money by throwing it on the floor. He shot the perp when the perp had robbed the other customers and turned to leave out the door or at least it looked like he was leaving. I would have been afraid that he might turn around and start shooting just to eliminate witnesses. That would also not be a first in this country. No winners except the gun manufacturers. Thanks for your comments Barry. John



  7. Mark Edward Jabbour
    Jan 17, 2023 @ 15:40:20

    2cents. If not for guns (most efficient) we’d (humans) still be prey. If not for killing all other predators, we’d still have to carry a gun/firearm to take a walk. The fact THAT I might have a gun protects me now from human predators. Indeed, it’s complicated. ~ Yeah, so now it’s about money. Okay. Money buys you food, shelter, respect, etc. and so on.



  8. jacobp81
    Jan 19, 2023 @ 15:45:16

    I think that it is important to detain and punish criminals. There are less-then-lethal weapons like a taser gun. We don’t want to let the thief go on robbing person after person.



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