UPDATED Monday 6:15 a.m. – A legally armed citizen stopped a violent attack Sunday morning by fatally shooting an attacker at a convenience store in King County, Washington and published reports quote a sheriff’s spokeswoman suggesting that had the “good Samaritan not acted, we might have a dead clerk on our hands.”
Sgt. Cindi West with the King County Sheriff’s office told Examiner that the dead man, who has yet to be identified, came into the store in the unincorporated Boulevard Park area near Burien where the 60-year-old armed customer was having coffee, as he does frequently in the morning. The suspect apparently didn’t say anything, but attacked the store clerk, identified by KIRO as Kuldeep Singh, with the hatchet. Singh received a minor injury to the abdomen.
West told KIRO, “This could have been disastrous.”
The incident gained national attention Monday morning on Fox News. Reaction, to the story has been supportive of what the armed Samaritan did. Though he was reportedly too shaken by the incident to talk to investigators, the word “hero” has been used. More than 240 comments from Seattle Times readers have been posted in reaction to the incident.
The customer has a valid concealed pistol license. As this column reported last week, there are more than 525,000 active CPLs in the state. Of those, King County has the highest number, more than 95,000. To obtain a license, one goes through a criminal background check. The state CPL is good for five years.
Washington state law says that homicide (by someone other than a law enforcement officer) is justifiable when committed either: “In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his or her presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or
“In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his or her presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he or she is.”
The dead man, believed to be in his 40s, according to KOMO News, died at the scene. Whether any charges are filed will be up to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office.
The incident unfolded at about 5:45 a.m. West said it happened very fast. The suspect came through the door and immediately started swinging the hatchet at customers and the clerk.
In October 2006, a legally armed man was attacked unprovoked in broad daylight in Seattle’s Westlake Plaza by another man later identified as Daniel Culotti. He had been under Department of Corrections supervision and had a history of violence.
The man Culotti attacked could not have known about his past. All he knew was that he was being beaten, and was on the ground staring up at the man delivering the beating. He drew a .357 Magnum revolver and fired. Culotti was fatally wounded. The investigation in this case determined that the armed man acted in self-defense.
West was quoted by both KIRO and KING earlier Sunday stating that there appears to have been “no wrongdoing” on the part of the armed customer. She told reporters that the armed man “probably saved lives in this case.”
The gun prohibition lobby frequently suggests that there is little evidence armed citizens make a difference or can act quickly enough to stop an attack. Based on what is currently known about Sunday morning’s incident, anti-gunners are mistaken.
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