Self-defense shootings are not always cut-and-dry, and this case is a prime example.
Min Kim, a Washington convenience store owner, has been charged with second-degree murder after prosecutors say he shot and killed a shoplifter who was attempting to flee.
Kim has a different story. According to the account he gave Q13 Fox News, the shoplifter—21-year-old Jakeel Mason—was trying to steal cigarettes when he pushed Kim to the ground and tried to steal his gun.
“He was keep reaching for my gun and I was really afraid,” Kim said. “I pulled my gun out and I shot him a couple times.”
Prosecutors, however, say the surveillance footage captured the day of the incident contradicts the 30-year-old’s version of events. According to charging papers acquired by The News Tribune, Kim un-holstered his gun when he found Mason stealing cigarettes. Kim re-holstered his weapon but proceeded to “punched Mason in the face.”
Both men started fighting, but Mason eventually freed himself and started for the door.
Surveillance video “shows Kim positioned himself behind Mason, having to clear himself from a shelf containing merchandise.”
“Kim raised the gun and shot two rounds at Mason as Mason neared the door in an effort to flee.”
Both rounds connected, and Mason died of two gunshot wounds to the back.
The video has yet to be released.
“Our store clerk would’ve been just fine if he would’ve let him go and called 911,” said Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer. “If you’re going to carry weapons you have to have the responsibility of carrying that weapon. We can’t have shoplifts turn into homicides.”
From here the story only gets more complicated.
According to Q13 Fox News, “in February, Kim’s wife, Suel, got into a shootout with an alleged robber. A bullet ripped through her side and the shooter took off running. She recovered.”
Kim said in an interview that the sound of someone entering his store makes him nervous to this day.
“I am scared. I’m scared of everybody who is walking actually right now. Whoever just walks by I am frightened,” he said.
Troyer addressed the previous incident in a number of interviews, acknowledging the complexity of the situation.
“This is a tough one because we can understand why the store clerk was on guard. His wife has just been shot there a month before during a robbery attempt and the whole family was upset about it. But that doesn’t give you the license and the right to arm yourself and shoot people who may be involved in shoplifting,” said Troyer.
According to Q13 Fox, Mason himself “is no stranger to law enforcement.” Police said Mason pleaded guilty after trying to abduct a 6-year-old Tacoma girl, and also pleaded guilty to attempted burglary.
Kim’s bail has been set at $200,000.
(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels)