Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 31, 2013

An item from the ‘truth is much stranger than fiction’ department


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Mobile, Alabama’s hometown TV station WALA FOX10 reports the following story, which contains comments that will leave most people scratching their head in disbelief.

An unidentified man who was shopping at the local Family Dollar store in Mobile saw a masked man pointing a gun at an employee and leading the employee toward the front of the store.

When he moved closer to investigate, he found the following: “He had the gun to his head. He had him on his knees,” said the man. “I drew my gun on him and I said ‘Hey, don’t move.’ At that point he swung around and before he had a chance to aim the gun at me, I fired. I didn’t want to shoot him,” he said.

The gunman, 18-year-old Adric White, was not killed, and was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and is now recuperating in police custody at the hospital. A second young man, 19-year-old Tavoris Moss, has been arrested as an accomplice to the Family Dollar robbery, although the FOX10 story did not explain the role he is accused of playing in the incident.

Court records show that Adric White was out on bond for robbing The Original Oyster House at gunpoint a little more than a month before the Family Dollar robbery, and records show the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office has now filed to have the bond in that case revoked.

Summarizing this incident, a young man out on bond for armed robbery was holding an employee of a retail establishment at gunpoint, and was challenged by a Good Samaritan with a gun, who then shot the young man when the Good Samaritan thought he was about to be shot.

Where this story gets really strange is in the reaction of Adric White’s family. The relatives of this young man who had already been charged in one armed robbery and was wounded in a second attempt to rob a store at gunpoint might reasonably condemn the young man’s behavior and be thankful that this wayward son is still alive and in relatively good condition, and therefore might be subject to rehabilitation. But that is not how at least some of his relatives reacted.

A female family member who did not want to be identified said the 18-year-old should have never been shot to begin with.

“If his (the customer’s) life was not in danger, if no one had a gun up to him, if no one pointed a gun at him — what gives him the right to think that it’s okay to just shoot someone?” said the relative. “You should have just left the store and went wherever you had to go in your car or whatever,” FOX10 reported the relative as saying.

Apparently, judging from this relative’s comments she believes the victim in this scenario is the robber holding the employee at gunpoint, not the employee being held at gunpoint. And, the person who has done wrong is not the guy holding an employee at gunpoint during a robbery, but the Good Samaritan who thwarts a robbery and saves the employee from possible harm or death at the hands of the robber.

Where does such upside-down thinking develop? Is it a feature of only a relative few troubled minds, or is it far more widespread? Is it born in a soul convinced that he/she is entitled and therefore can do no wrong, or somehow is not subject to the laws governing our behavior? Is it a product of a failing culture that has not imparted basic American and human values to more recent generations?

Interestingly, FOX10 had interviewed Adric White’s parents, but the station reports that they later called the station and demanded the video not be aired. We are left to wonder whether they share the screwy morality of the relative whose sentiments were reported above.

For the record, the police emphasize that the Good Samaritan — whose name was not released, perhaps for his own protection — who shot the alleged robber was justified and broke no laws.

“[Criminals] tend to think that they are the only ones with guns,” the Good Samaritan told FOX10. “I’ve been legally carrying my firearm for a little over four years now, and thank God I’ve never had to use it until, of course, last night. It just goes to show it’s good to have a concealed carry [permit]. You never know when you’re going to need it.”

This story is sure to contribute to the fierce debate over gun control. It is a point in favor of the idea held by many of those who defend the constitutional right of Americans to keep and bear arms that the best way to combat a bad guy with a gun is the presence of a good guy with a gun. It shows that there may be positive results when law-abiding citizens are armed.

Whichever side of that argument you are on, we can all acknowledge that because of the behavior of this man legally carrying a gun, a robbery was thwarted and the perpetrator did not harm anyone.

Happy New Year!

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.