The two surviving members of a group of would-be stickup artists thwarted by a shotgun-wielding Harlem restaurant supply store owner have pleaded guilty to robbery.
Prosecutors say 21-year-old Shamel McCloud and 22-year-old Bernard Witherspoon entered their pleas Wednesday. They're expected to be sentenced to five years in prison on March 11.
They were among four men who tried to hold up the Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame Corp. in August. Seventy-two-year-old store owner Charles Augusto Jr. fired at them, wounding McCloud and Witherspoon; two other men were killed.
McCloud's lawyer, Scott Leemon, called the episode a "drastic mistake" for McCloud. Witherspoon's lawyer didn't immediately return a telephone call.
Augusto wasn't charged. He says he hopes McCloud and Witherspoon aren't punished too harshly and fears prison would "mess them up."
It's a bit difficult to reconcile this remark from Mr. Augusto with the facts of the case. This is from the original report in the New York Times.
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.
I guess if this could have been considered a legitimate shooting, anything is possible, even for the trigger happy gun owner to be concerned for his victims, worried that prison might "mess them up."
To me what this shows is that even in gun-sensitive New York, the vigilante mentality is encouraged. Young criminals are open game even after they cease to be a threat.
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