A man in a town just south of Tampa, Florida, used his defensive handgun to shoot another man who had attempted four carjackings in broad daylight at a local shopping center, local media reports.
Neither the victim nor the suspect have been identified by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, but Sheriff Chad Chronister told local media yesterday that the gun owner is not currently a suspect in this case.
The incident began Tuesday around 9 a.m. when the suspect, armed with a semi-automatic handgun, tried to break into at least four cars parked in front of a Publix grocery store in the town of Sun City Center. All of the cars were locked, and Chronister mentioned that a Coke delivery driver moved his truck to block access to some of the other cars in the parking lot.
Unable to gain access to a car, the suspect attempted to enter the businesses in the strip mall surrounding the Publix. Some were locked, and in at least one case an employee held the door shut and denied entry.
Chronister reports that one of the employees notified their supervisor of the attempted carjackings, so the supervisor exited the store using the rear door, where he met the suspect.
“During that time, some type of altercation occurred,” Chronister told reporters. “The business supervisor discharged his weapon and struck the suspect in the upper body.”
It’s unclear what kind of altercation took place. When asked by a reporter whether the suspect attacked the victim, Chronister said, “That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
“No charges on our victim at this point. We’re calling him a victim until we can examine the surveillance footage and interview a few more witnesses, and then we’ll make that determination. But at this point, he’s still a victim.”
The supervisor legally possessed his firearm, and even though he doesn’t have a concealed weapons permit, Chronister told reporters that he “wouldn’t need it at this point.”
The suspect was known to law enforcement. Chronister said he had 10 previous felony arrests, all related to narcotics.
His motives aren’t known, but the sheriff stressed that the investigation is still in its early stages.
“How he got here, why he chose this shopping center, what his motive was, we just don’t know at this point.”
The suspect’s name is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin. The victim has requested an attorney before speaking to law enforcement, so the Chronister couldn’t provide any additional details about the shooting at the time of the press conference.