A shopping mall in suburban Detroit was the scene yesterday of a fantasy come true for a lot of folks who think packing heat makes them a hero. And then there’s real life.
Police confirmed on Wednesday that a concealed pistol license (CPL) holder was not being threatened by a fleeing shoplifter when she decided to fire multiple shots at him in a Home Depot parking lot.
And experts interviewed Wednesday doubted the shooting could have been justified.
“It’s my worst nightmare as a CPL instructor,” said Doreen Hankins, owner of Detroit Arms, which holds CPL classes. “You have to know the entire situation before you pull that handgun out. And I don’t see that a shoplifter at Home Depot fills any of those criteria.”
The shooting happened in the store’s parking lot at around 2 p.m. Tuesday, when Home Depot’s store security was chasing a shoplifter who jumped into a waiting dark SUV driven by another suspect, said Lt. Jill McDonnell, an Auburn Hills police spokeswoman.
But when the SUV began to pull away, the CPL holder, a 48-year-old woman from Clarkston, suddenly began firing shots at the fleeing vehicle. The vehicle escaped, though one of the bullets may have flattened a back tire, McDonnell said. Police are still seeking to identify the suspects, who made off with more than $1,000 in merchandise.
The shooter remained on the scene, cooperated with police, and was released pending an investigation. But gun safety experts say the shooting details that have been released so far don’t look great for the shooter.
To use a concealed weapon in Michigan, a CPL holder needs to think that there is an imminent danger of death, great bodily harm or sexual assault, or think there is a similar danger to someone else, said Rick Ector, a firearms trainer who runs Legally Armed Detroit. He added that a gun is “truly a tool of last resort.”
So despite what you see on Hawaii 5-0, it’s not a good idea to shoot at a fleeing vehicle, and the last time I looked, using deadly force against a shoplifter is not on the books.
I hope they throw the book at her, but they’d better be careful; she might shoot back.