Matrix Richard Lee of St. Paul, Minnesota, was charged with dangerous discharge of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm Tuesday after he opened fire on a purse snatcher who was fleeing in a white car near Lake Como Monday afternoon, local media reports.
The licensed concealed carry permit holder was sitting on a bench with his soon-to-be wife when he noticed a strange white car pull up next to his unlocked Toyota 4Runner, which was parked in a nearby parking lot.
Suddenly, a woman exited the vehicle and grabbed his fiancee’s purse from the 4Runner. Lee began to run over to confront the woman, but as he was heading over he told police he saw her make a gesture that made him believe she was reaching for a firearm.
That’s when he pulled his sidearm and began to open fire on the woman who had jumped into the white car.
“Lee grabbed his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, inserted a full magazine into the gun, and fired a round at the fleeing vehicle,” said the police complaint.
Lee fired a total of two shots. And according to a bystander, Lee used the bystander’s car to steady his aim.
“A man ran up to [her] car, used the hood of her car to take a steady shooting platform, and fired one round at the fleeing white car,” the complaint said.
Police and the local prosecutor believe Lee’s actions were unjustified, arguing that he wasn’t really in danger of death or great bodily harm.
“Just because you have the permit to carry doesn’t give you license to fire it recklessly in our community,” Ramsey County attorney John Choi told Fox 9.
Yet Lee believes he was in full control of the situation, despite the fact that he told police he fired the second shot after the driver of the white car gave him the finger.
“It was a crowded place and there were people around and I see clear. I don’t shoot directly at the person. I shoot the car tire. I know exactly where I shoot. It not go near anyone,” Lee told Fox 9 News.
Lee was released from Ramsey County jail Tuesday afternoon. He has no prior criminal record. He had received his permit to carry back in May following several robberies at the restaurant he works at. Police have confiscated his permit.
What are your thoughts on this situation? Was Lee unjustified in shooting at the fleeing thief? What would you do in his shoes? Would you draw your gun and open fire?