A man is in custody after allegedly stabbing a driver to death at an Atlanta gas station on Monday morning, and police say an armed citizen who witnessed the stabbing ended up shooting the suspect when he turned his attention (and knife) on him.
The incident unfolded around 6 a.m. this morning, when police received near simultaneous calls about a stabbing and a shooting in the western part of the city. Officers arrived to find a confusing situation, but were able to piece together the basics of what happened fairly quickly.
According to police, a driver stopped at the gas station and came back to his SUV to find a man inside it. Police said the man stabbed the driver multiple times and took off.
A witness to the stabbing decided to follow the man down the street. Police said the two got into a confrontation and the stabbing suspect lunged at the witness with a knife. Police said the witness fired his gun at the suspect and shot him at least once.
… Channel 2′s Kristen Holloway asked if the witness will face any charges. Police said that remains under investigation.
“We just have to hear his story. Just from the accounts we’re hearing, right now preliminary, it may look like he was doing the right thing,” Deputy Chief Charles Hampton. Jr. said. “Obviously we don’t encourage anyone to get that involved, but if the circumstances is that an individual is coming toward him with a weapon, he does have a right to defend himself.”
No offense to the deputy chief, but if this witnesses hadn’t just allowed this murder suspect to stroll away down the street without following him I’m sure there would be plenty of people criticizing him for not getting involved. It doesn’t sound like the armed citizen was trying to confront the suspect, just to keep eyeballs on him until police arrived on scene. He might have felt emboldened to do so because he knew he was carrying a gun for self-defense, but at this point there’s zero evidence that he was ever the aggressor here; instead, it appears he acted in self-defense after he himself was assaulted.
I remember last year, when Oakland, California police chief LeRonne Armstrong responded to growing attacks on Asian American business owners by declaring that what police really need are good witnesses, not armed citizens. I thought that was an absurd statement at the time, and this defensive gun use in Atlanta is just more evidence of the outlandishness of Armstrong’s thinking. There’s no reason why armed citizens can’t also be good witnesses, but they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their right of self-defense in order to help police capture or subdue a violent attacker.
In fact, I’d argue that individuals are more likely to stick around to report and observe if they have the means to protect themselves. If you want good witnesses, after all, you need them to be alive to report what they’ve seen; both to officers at the scene and in court if an arrest leads to a trial. California Democrats are doing everything they can to prevent good witnesses from being able to protect themselves, but thankfully they’ve got a different mindset in Atlanta; one that will hopefully lead to justice being done for the family of the man who was murdered when he was just trying to fill up his gas tank.