A shotgun-wielding owner of a Harlem restaurant-supply company blasted two robbers to death and wounded two others on Thursday when he caught them pistol-whipping his employee, police said.
Turning the tables on the brutish bandits, 72-year-old Charles (Gus) Augusto opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun he kept handy for such occasions, cops and witnesses said.
Before reading any further I wondered how he shot the robbers without hitting his employee. If the guy was being pistol-whipped, he must have been within arm's length of the bad guy and a shotgun is not that accurate. Then the answer appeared.
The stickup crew - three 21-year-olds and a 29-year-old - came prepared with a pistol and plastic handcuffs. They tried to tie up two of Augusto's employees - a 35-year-old man and his 47-year-old female co-worker, said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.
"The male employee started to struggle, and then, as he did that, the perp with the gun struck him once in the head," Browne said.
"... That's when the owner opened fire with the shotgun."
As the bandits bolted from the store, Augusto squeezed off three blasts from the pistol-grip shotgun from 20 to 30 feet away from the pistol-whipped employee.
He was deadly accurate. The four bandits - who were all from Manhattan - were hit.
Two of the robbers were struck in the back. One, identified as James Morgan, dropped dead inside the store among the sparkling gas stoves, a pistol near his body.
It's unclear to me what happened with the first shot. From "20 to 30 feet away" I don't think he would have been able to hit the robber without endangering the employees. But once they turned and ran, it was possible. "Two of the robbers were struck in the back." How in the world can that be considered a legitimate shooting? Perhaps this gives us an inkling into the inflated numbers we always hear about these defensive shootings.
The police said the shotgun, which Charles Augusto bought 30 years ago after a robbery, may not have been legally owned, but that if he is "hit with a charge, it will be a minor one."
To me this is outrageous. Aren't there laws against people shooting other people in the back, regardless of what they were just doing? I understand the passions were running high, but that doesn't excuse shooting people down who are running away.
The furious employee who had been pistol-whipped ran out of the store and leaned over the mortally wounded Footmon, cursing at him, witnesses said.
The worker went back into the store and dragged Morgan's body onto the sidewalk, yelling at him and kicking him, witnesses said.
"He stood over the body cursing him and shaking him, even though he was dead," said Matthew Viane, 38, who lives in the neighborhood. "He was screaming at him and stomping him. "He [the employee] said, 'You were going to kill me? Now you're dead!'"
I can well imagine the shotgun-wielding owner, Mr. Augusto, had a similar reaction to being robbed and seeing his employee beaten. What I can't imagine is how the police can consider this a legitimate defensive shooting.
What's your opinion? I realize armed robbers run this risk when they do their thing, but aren't law-abiding citizens constrained to limit their defensive killings to only those cases in which lethal threat is operative?
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