Home Depot shoplifter shooting - careless gun use or vigilante justice?
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (WJBK) - What do you do if you come home from work and confront a guy that broke into your house? Or it's late at night and you hear someone breaking into your car and that person tries to attack you? Experts say those are no-brainers. In both cases you have the right to shoot. And in other cases, it ought to be crystal clear when you cannot.
Some firearm experts say the woman in Auburn Hills was wrong to open fire in the Home Depot parking lot, shooting at a shoplifting suspect's getaway vehicle.
"There could have been a 4-year-old child coming out of Home Depot with their grandparent," says Tanisha Moner, a CPL instructor.
"You can't shoot at moving cars. You can't shoot at people retreating. You can't do that," Moner says. FOX 2 asked her when gun owners have the legal right to shoot.
FOX 2: "If I see a guy running out of my house with my flat screen TV, what do I do?"
"I hope you have insurance," Moner says.
FOX 2: "But I've got my gun."
Moner: "You call the police."
She says you can only shoot someone when you are defending yourself or someone else from the threat of great bodily harm, rape or death. But if someone put a pistol to your pet's head, you're also advised not to play Rambo and try to rescue Rover.
"Your pet is considered personal property," Moner says. "You cannot shoot a person for attacking your dog."
There have been a few instances recently where guns have been used to stop criminals, from a CPL holder shooting a bank robber to a carjacking victim unloading on a suspect that appears to be retreating.
"That's a sticky one," Moner says. "I mean if he's put the car in reverse, if you're still in the line of where he can put the car in drive and possibly run you over, you may be justified in shooting someone."
And if that is sticky, what happened in Auburn Hills Tuesday is Teflon.
"What should have taken place there, is she should have noted the description of the individual," says Daryl Brown, a retired deputy chief from the Detroit Police Department. "Noted the description of the vehicle, noted the method of escape. But to take a shot at him, I don't see that happening."
FOX 2: "Does this woman get arrested?"
"She should get arrested," Brown says. "Because one, she didn't have to be shooting at somebody for a misdemeanor. Even officers, we can only shoot at fleeing felons in exigent circumstances."
The woman in the Auburn Hills shooting is cooperating with police. She has not been arrested; they released her pending the investigation.
As for the shoplifter and his getaway driver, both are on the lam. So if you happen to spot a small black SUV with a damaged rear tire in or around Auburn Hills, you're asked to give police a call.