When is it justified to shoot at a fleeing thief in a vehicle?


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?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 58 comments… add one }
  • sweetfry April 22, 2017, 4:27 pm

    The threat to someone’s person is real in the case of the guy defending the theft of the purse. We no longer have a bystander intervention culture where stepping up to prevent a crime in progress is normal. The theft was in broad daylight, in view of other people. The only one who did something was the firearm owner (who shouldn’t have to get a permit to use his gun anyway!). He correctly assessed the situation as a real and immediate threat to the owner of the purse in this way: stealing an identity is as damaging as a physical assault. Everything from credit history to health care is affected. We cannot be sure that the intent of the theft was the immediate monetary gain. The gun owner didn’t try to kill anyone and for his heroic deed he got thrown in prison. wow. Yet the thief who instigated the situation seems able to abscond with what she wanted with little to no consequence. Hopefully getting shot at will deter her from committing another theft but her willingness to act out in the open shows the brazen disregard for others that blossoms in the criminal class when they see law abiding (2nd amendment law abiding) citizens thrown in jail for trying to stop crime. Why would a criminal get a gun when they can get the courts to jail you or make you pay for shooting a criminal in the course of committing a crime? The real theft was not the purse, it was the liberty for the gun owner in this story… unfortunate for us all…

  • vinny January 21, 2017, 12:48 pm

    No imminent threat here,according to the story as told. Lock you car and secure your self and your belongings. An ounce of prevention would certainly have helped in this instance.Be vigilant.

  • tiimothyf7 September 3, 2016, 12:11 am

    I don’t know what the laws are in the state where this happened, but in my state, the only time you can legally discharge your firearm is when your life or the life of another is in eminent danger… period. He would have gone to jail here. It is written as law here.

  • Paul May 20, 2016, 3:30 pm

    This is the kind of stupid stuff that makes us all look bad! You cant fix stupid!

  • DC December 23, 2015, 11:44 am

    If a cop sees a bank robber running from a bank he just robbed, you think he can’t fire at him?

  • Xanadu May 19, 2015, 12:53 am

    When is it MORAL to kill someone over your girlfriend’s purse? Do you really want to live with having killed someone over a purse? Personal choice, I guess.

    This is, obviously, very political. Some politician trying to pander to an anti-gun constituency. Can’t really reach much of an informed conclusion based on what’s here. Based on what’s here, I would judge the first shot as justified, he thought the bad guy was reaching for a firearm. Cops frequently murder people who they ‘think’ are reaching for firearms (and who turn out to be unarmed) and are never held accountable for it–and, often, they take dozens of rounds to accomplish their goals. This makes it a no brainer. The DA is trying to make points. He won’t take it to court. The DA has a huge attitude problem, which would not encourage a jury to side with him. It’ll plea to some really minor misdemeanor, no jail time, no fine. Or, after a couple of months be round filed and nothing done. Too many people can identify with this guy.

    The second shot is debatable–he reacted like any cop would have. Actually, he was more restrained than a cop, he only fired twice. A cop would have called eight or nine of his buddies and they all would have massacred the guy. That the guy took the time to flip him off shows the guy had wonderful discipline under fire. I’d look for ex-military or ex-cop. Although, most cops act out of fear and, probably, wouldn’t have the presence of mind to to it.

    I wouldn’t even have thought about shooting anyone over property. There is no property in the world I would want to kill someone over. Self-defense or defense of others, is an entirely other story.

  • Chappy May 18, 2015, 6:50 am

    This was not a justifiable discharge of his firearm. There was no imminent danger to himself or others and therefore, shooting at a fleeing car was wrong. If this person had trained at a facility who teaches firearm defense, like Frontsight, he would have thought twice about his actions. It is our duty to get proper training if we are to carry and be responsible. Situations like this cause gun control activists to voice an outcry for gun control.

  • roger bret October 23, 2014, 10:23 am

    THE LAW IS THE LAW. It doesn’t make changes per the circumstances. You break the law you go to jail. This guy broke the law because he was not in fear of his life when he discharged his weapon. Same thing applies if you shoot an intruder in the BACK. He/She couldn’t have been threatening your life if facing away from you, is the idea. This guy said he shot at the tire. Was he watching too many Dirty Harry movies or just really stupid?! From 20 yards there is a big chance he’s going to miss, and where would the round go? In a park like that there could be people anywhere and when that round ricochets off the pavement what ever is in the path for at least 100 yds is going to take a big hit. He’s REALLY lucky a bystander didn’t take the bullet or he’d be facing manslaughter right now. YES, this was not only recklessness but “Cowboy stupidity”! Shooting at the tire…You’re kill’in me hear!

  • DaveGinOly October 21, 2014, 12:33 am

    The law shouldn’t punish any act that 1.) didn’t hurt anyone, and 2.) for which there was no criminal intent.
    Generally, a “crime” occurs when someone intentionally and unlawfully injures another person or their property. We also punish attempts to intentionally and unlawfully injure another person or their property (attempted murder, attempted robbery, and so on). There is no justification for punishing someone whose act didn’t hurt anyone and for which there is no criminal intent, and doing so doesn’t serve “justice” (it can’t – there’s no “injustice” that needs remediation).
    To answer the question, “Was Lee’s shooting justified?” No, it was not. But should it be punished as a criminal offense, no it should not be punished. If I were a juror sitting on the prosecution of his case, I would simply refuse to convict as is my right to do as a juror. In days of yore, English common law juries pledged to “convict no innocent person, and allow no criminal to escape.” The law was nearly irrelevant (and bad law could be made irrelevant by jurors’ continued resistance to its enforcement); jurors’ sense of right and wrong was more important that words on pieces of paper.

    • Russ October 22, 2014, 1:16 am

      How about making them both take firearm safety and training classes.
      And sign them up for life with the NRA with a $8,000.00 donation?

  • Tom McMurray October 20, 2014, 9:40 pm

    As a Police Officer you are taught to never fire at a fleeing felon unless he is an immediate threat to bystanders. This person committed a misdemeanor, no weapon, took the pocketbook out of an unlocked car that had nobody around and was not a threat to any bodies health or welfare. So far he has committed a misdemeanor, if he didn’t hit any body with a stray shot. Had he hit a tire and caused the driver to lose control and kill somebody or killed the driver and then the car ran over somebody or into a crowd guess who is going to be charged with murder or murders!

  • Tom McMurray October 20, 2014, 9:35 pm

    As a Police Officer you are taught to never fire at a fleeing felon unless he is an immediate threat to bystanders. This person committed a misdemeanor, no weapon, took the pocketbook out of an unlocked car that had nobody around and was not a threat to any bodies health or welfare. So far he has committed a misdemeanor, if he didn’t hit any body with a stray shot. Had he hit a tire and caused the driver to lose control and kill somebody or killed the driver and then the car ran over somebody or into a crowd guess who is going to be charged with murder or murders!

  • Rich W October 20, 2014, 3:08 pm

    The way the laws are currently written the guy is probably toast. Please allow me to relate an incident that I was involved in.
    I had been back from Vietnam for maybe 7 months when a neighbor called me around midnight. He wanted to know why I was working on my car so late to which I responded I wasn’t. What I found was two individuals under the hood of my car.
    I grabbed a rifle from the closet and went out the back door and was able to walk right up to the person working on the passenger side of the engine. I ordered him to get on the ground at which point he looked at me, then looked at the rifle, then turned and started running. I squeezed the trigger and heard click instead of boom and realized I had an empty rifle. I chased and caught him. Somewhere along the line his body made contact with the butt of the rifle. Anyway, my neighbor was a cop and took over the scenario. I admit that I was puzzled by some of the comments that I was later on the receiving end of. It seems that some folks just couldn’t understand that I actually pulled the trigger when all the guy was doing was stealing a battery and carburetor. My response was that I had earned the money to purchase that car while putting my life on the line in a combat zone and that should someone want to liberate all or part of it they would be putting their life on the line as I originally did to get the money to buy it. I would like to spotlight the extent the liberal thinking has corrupted our legal system. When I person works and buys something it is theirs. It represents a choice they have made by trading a portion of their life that they sacrificed in order to earn the money they used to purchase the item(s). Way too many people are too quick to say it is just property and can be replaced and let the insurance take care of it. I say, NO, it represents a part of my life that I can’t get back and that the person that either took or tried to take it away is can expect to pay the price should they decide to roll the dice. How many times have you watched the news and seen a high speed chase on the expressways with the cops in hot pursuit or seen one of the police shows where they person runs from the cops. They know they are safe from being shot at in order to stop them and take full advantage of that. How many innocent folks have their lives put in danger by the bad guy trying to get away? I believe a person should be warned once, maybe twice, then it should be a center mass shot(s) regardless if they are facing you or not. Real life doesn’t mirror an elementary school playground where it might matter who hit who first or who suffered the most physical damage. Our liberal society and court system to include the parasites that make their living off of the same, has morphed into where the victims become the bad guys. The cops don’t protect, they investigate after the fact. Back in the day, if you stole a man’s horse you were hung, maybe with a trial or maybe not, but the result was folks didn’t mess with another man’s horse. I’m sure there were folks that said that it was only an animal and you shouldn’t take a human life over an animal. My answer is simple, back then a horse was the means to make a living and quite possibly a means to keep on living and should you take that away the consequences for the owner could prove deadly but for sure would be an unwarranted hardship. I reckon that by current standards I’m not civilized by todays measures but regardless of their motivation if someone violates my sovereignty including my “stuff” I take it real personal.

  • neil October 20, 2014, 12:21 pm

    what if the purse had a gun in it with 30,000.dolars in it?

  • imthegrumpyone October 20, 2014, 11:32 am

    Unjustified ? no, against the law ? yes. Why?, because we’ve made laws to protect the criminals and dam the law abiding citizens. When our we going to wake up America!!!

    • Jerryj September 2, 2016, 7:28 am

      The American “PEOPLE” have woken up !!!! ITS the “lawmakeing MORONS” in D.C. who are ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL !!!!!

  • Lancer October 20, 2014, 11:27 am

    Something really fishy about this story! A person whos’ store has been robbed several times, and feels the need to get a concealed carry permit; goes to the park, leaves his vehicle unlocked with a purse inside it? Then, he shoots at tires of a moving vehicle? What……… was he thinking. I do agree that it seems ridiculous that a citizen is just supposed to submit to a criminal, and allow them to escape with their property. That is certainly not fair, but what is these days?

  • John L October 20, 2014, 10:09 am

    When is it justified? Never. Plain and simple. You will ruin your life, and you will pay a lawyer far more than whatever property you lost. I carry for one simple reason, protection of life. If you carry you have to reign in your emotions when it comes to frivolous use of a firearm. This guy reacted emotionally, ( as we can all understand ), and now faces prosecution and the possibility that he may lose his right to even own a weapon. That is a lot to give up just because someone pissed you off.

  • Jay October 20, 2014, 9:57 am

    Come on people. This was unjustified, and reckless. I’m an instructor too, and don’t see ANY reason or justification in him even pulling out his pistol. For you “tough guys” – way to make all legitimate, responsible concealed carry firearms owners sound like morons. I ask you – how would you feel if you shot and killed someone for stealing a purse? What if you were unarmed in this situation and someone stole the purse, and then the police arrested him. Would you ask for the death penalty? Would you really be able to live with yourself if you killed someone over a purse – even if it was legal?

    I understand being angry at our criminal justice system. The laws mostly don’t work, and criminals go free daily. But talking about killing someone for stealing a purse? You think that’s ok? It’s that mentality that is exactly what the anti-gun people WANT you to have – so they can truly justify none of us having firearms. Additionally, if you think that it is justified to shoot and kill someone for stealing a purse, then I really don’t want YOU to have a firearm anywhere around me.

    Now, if this person stealing the purse would have put me, my family, or bystanders in danger, then different story altogether. Thank God I’ve never had to use my firearms (other than military service) against someone. I’m not sure (even justified) how I’d sleep at night – at least for a while. If you think you would be ok with taking a life for something like a purse, you really need to send me all of your guns, and check into a hospital for some help.

    • Robrte October 23, 2014, 4:48 pm

      We have to be careful how we use our weapons if we count on them for our personal and family protection. I commented above on proper use of weapons but we have hundreds of people from Senators down to local anti-gun groups who would love to see us loose our guns. I have always hoped and prayed I would never have to draw my weapon and most honest police officers will tell you that too. Fact is, most police work their entire careers and never draw their weapon more than twice average. I’ve known and been friends with many police officers in my lifetime (I am 80 now) and most of them are just average Joes. However they do carry off duty weapons for the same reason we carry ours. Protection. Lastly remember that in all nations where the people have had their weapons confiscated they wind up in a slave or servant situation to the central government. That could mean loss of liberty, life and family. We already have a rogue president and most of the congress likewise. Lets not give them a reason to constantly attack us. God bless and keep your powder dry.

  • Wade Brown October 20, 2014, 9:51 am

    The CCW holder that fired his handgun without the risk of eminent threat to life is lucky he did not hit the purse snatcher or possibly anyone else in the car. I realize he said he was shooting at the tires but how many of us would honestly claim that we would have been able to shoot accurately in that situation. Have any of you practiced on shooting at targets moving away from you? I claim the shooter was lucky he did not hit anyone is he would have been strung up by the court due to the lack of eminent threat.


  • Danilushka Ozera October 20, 2014, 9:27 am

    As a concealed carry permit holder, you are permitted to engage in the very dangerous business of discharging a firearm in populated areas as a calculated risk which is only justified if there is an imminent threat of loss of life or life-threatening injury to you or someone you are protecting. the reason is simple: under stress, you will miss and misses are likely hit something or someone else and ricochets can ineverjure or kill noninvolved parties and damage property. It is tough to conduct the mental calculus under pressure and in a short time, but it is our responsibility to actively ensure we don’t do more harm protecting ourselves than is being done or threatening to be done to us. His action violated that responsibility. Further, such rash action will turn the public tide of support for concealed carry.

  • Bob October 20, 2014, 9:22 am

    I served in the military for 23 years as an Airborne Infantryman, and served as a Sniper for 6 of those 23 years now I am a 100% disabled American veteran, I have had a concealed carry permit for 10 years, if it were me I would have wanted to shoot at the vehicle, but I wouldn’t have. I consider myself a pretty good shot and I believe I would have hit what I was shooting at. As some of the other posts have stated on here that the purse snatcher wasn’t a direct threat to the victim, as far as threat of death or serious bodily injury, but you do have the right to protect your property and that’s a fine line. I would have been really pissed off, but knowing I couldn’t justify taking the shot, I would have focused on any points of interest to be able to give a detailed statement to the police, tag number, description of the vehicle, and perpetrator…. ect. I wouldn’t have been able to stop the crime from happening, I don’t believe we should have to lock our car doors or our homes up in fear of someone targeting our property, but that’s how low some of our society has become, it seems that criminals have more rights than law abiding citizens. I am not chastising the victim or trying to be high and mighty, but when you have a permit to conceal carry, you cant let your temper or emotions over ride your common sense, All of us have read the story, and now the victim is in more trouble than the perp, I don’t know what the laws are in that particular state, but some carry a felony charge, so you loose big time, if its a felony you loose your right to legally have a firearm, no more hunting, target or sport shooting and so on. God bless, God bless America.

    • RobPet October 20, 2014, 10:01 am

      Art, you are right. That is exactly the liberal attitude today. The hell with honest taxpaying victims who get no rights and often end up dead and crippled for life. No justice, no compensation, no nothing. Oh, but that dirtbag was a good boy, free lawyers, food, medicine, dental, housing, etc. The guy in this case is wrong, but why is he being charged and the dirtball gets a slap on hand if caught? Which is all this guy should get. The dirtbag can own guns and now maybe this guy cannot? BS!

      I could be walking the street with my concealed permitted weapon and watch a victim beaten to death ( many dirtbags are powerful musculars don’t need a weapon ) and draw my weapon and order him to freeze and he continues to beat a victim dead and I can’t shoot the dirtbag? Yet, If I did the victim would be alive and then if he runs I still can’t shoot and he is free to do it to someone else again. Something very wrong here.

      • Xanadu May 19, 2015, 12:58 am

        The first part of your mugging scenario is ‘defense of others.’

        After the guy is running away, you’re no longer in danger. Therefore, unless you’re a cop, it is no longer self-defenses. If you’re a cop, you can hunt the guy down at leisure, kill him two weeks later and not be held accountable.

  • mike kolendo October 20, 2014, 8:31 am

    I sympathize with the guy but he is wrong, in any state in this country. Someone must be in imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm before deadly force can be used. plain and simple. obviously his education about the law was lacking, and that is probably the fault of the state for not requiring better knowledge before issuing a license to carry.

  • Jesse Wright October 20, 2014, 8:18 am

    While the action seems reckless, if he discharged his weapon to disable the car and there is no evidence that he had shot at the thief, Mr Lee may be able to prove his justification in discharging his weapon.

  • ibjj October 20, 2014, 8:18 am

    Mr. Lee and his intended are dumbasses just looking for trouble. LOCK THE CAR (truck). Lay the purse (or other valuables) under the seat or behind it. Don’t shoot unless threatened.
    Drop to a prone position…on your back and make sure an entry wound is lower than the exit wound…that alone will keep you out of prison. Don’t play John Wayne, and unless you are the intended victim…don’t draw…don’t point… and don’t shoot!!!!!! Even though a person is being assaulted and maimed…you’re not a cop and entering the fray with a gun drawn will get you a prison sentence. I know it’s a tough decision…but walk away and call 911. If all you do is use your fists or a club, you can still face assault charges.
    With or without a gun it’s gonna’ cost you $10,000.00 at the very least to beat it, and maybe the loss of your liberty. Tough shit for the victim…but unless you’re the victim……………..mind your own business…or become a victim of the legal system!!!!!!
    Okay…so you decide to go ahead and step in…then do it and get out…quickly. Don’t stand around waiting to be named a “hero”, RUN! (and don’t look up at the camera…keep your head down)

  • Fighting mad October 20, 2014, 8:14 am

    I believe the thief signed her own death warrant when she decided to steal. We’d all be better off if both rounds hit her in the head. Hopefully this gave her a good life lesson on what to expect when you become a low life thief and maybe she’ll think twice next time.

    • Danilushka O October 20, 2014, 9:18 am

      Unfortunately, the majority of theft, burglary, and robbery crimes are by drug addicts who. already having in engaged in a life-threatening addiction, as so compelled to fund their habit that the risk of criminal activity leaves them undeterred.If we can, as a nation, figure out a way to remove the profit from the drug trade and decimate addiction,we’ll see our crime rates plunge.

      • RobPet October 20, 2014, 10:06 am

        Legalize it, The government make it all legal, tax it and be the suppliers but cheaper than drug lords. One caveat though, If it is legalized, then no Medicaid or welfare benefits to users. THEY, make the choice.

  • Tony M October 20, 2014, 7:51 am

    No he was not justified in using his weapon the reason being his life was not in eminent danger. Unless the perpetrator was firing a weapon from his car or he was confronted with a weapon like a knife, gun or even a club that could bash his head in. Also the penalty for purse snatching is not a death sentence so you have no right to take his life according to the law. The term deadly physical force is only permissible when you believe your life is in eminent danger and you cannot retreat to safety. By him firing his weapon he could have hit an innocent bystander. Carrying a concealed weapon is for detouring another person from causing physical bodily harm to you or another person by force and let the police do the rest.

    • scudrunner October 20, 2014, 9:55 am

      RobPet, I would hope you could see the difference in the two scenarios. If someone is being beaten, his life is in jeopardy. That is WAY different from someone snatching a purse from an unattended car and running away. There are different levels of dirtbags. Someone beating someone else has no regard for life. Someone stealing a purse has no regard for property. That distinction should have been taught to you before you were allowed to carry a concealed weapon and are ready to go “Dirty Harry” on someone.

      • RobPet October 20, 2014, 10:14 am

        True and I agree and I would not on that scenario, of course. It is the Mr. Lee should only be charged with reckless use, but his penalty should only be minimal and re-educational on his use of firearm and still be allowed to keep his CWP. Or, I should say a ” slap on the wrist ” like the property thief would get.

  • RobPet October 20, 2014, 7:21 am

    To bad he did not hit the thief. I say if you order some bad dirtbag to stop and they do not, then I got some thing that can catch them that is very small and fast. To many rights to the dirtbags and not enough rights for the victims or for those who get involved to stop these crimes no matter what the crime is.

    I wonder what you guys would say if your being literally beaten to death during a robbery and Here I am watching it go down on you. I have a concealed weapon permit and a cell phone. I suppose you want me to call and wait for the cops and watch you die and the dirtballs run away all the time I could of Dirty Harry them on the spot?

    • Dusty October 21, 2014, 4:18 am

      Read the report. It was not a “purse snatch” which is a lesser included crime of strongarm robbery. It was a vehicle prowl. Lee had time to insert a magazine, make ready and then fire upon a fleeing vehicle? Defending a fool like this tends to bring us all down to the level he is perceived to be. I’m not defending criminals- but even the cops can’t lawfully shoot at a fleeing vehicle occupoed by persons perhaps not involved in the crime and even then it needs to be a violent felony. Would Lee be satisfied that an innocent passenger in that car, like maybe a 2 year old in a car seat was shot or killed? Or maybe the ricochet off the pavement takes out the school bus driver with a buch of students aboard? Take his pistol and CHL away, give him enough ‘inside’ time to understand the rules and move on.

    • bob h October 21, 2014, 3:07 pm

      RobPet, your hypothetical bears no relation to the facts as reported. No one was being beaten to death. There wasn’t even any physical contact between Lee, the female thief, or the fleeing car driver. According to Lee he fired his first shot when he saw a movement that made him think she was about to shoot at him. Okay, giving him the benefit of doubt let’s say he ran for cover and then fired one shot but also according to Lee he fired the second shot at the fleeing car’s tire AFTER THE DRIVER GAVE HIM THE FINGER. If someone gives you the finger you may get angry but it doesn’t cause you any physical harm. Even if Lee’s first shot was justified, which is doubtful at best, his second shot was clearly not.
      By the way, “Dirty Harry” was a movie not reality and even in that movie Harry didn’t shoot at anyone that posed no imminent threat of grave bodily harm or death to anyone.

  • Jay October 20, 2014, 6:48 am

    If the story does indeed relate Factual information. Then he was not justified to shoot at the fleeing vehicle. If he had actually saw a firearm brandished by either of the thief’s that’s another situation all together depending on the events that occur. I feel his aggravation at the situation but in the end, we have to make quick but informed decisions when it comes to actual use of a firearm for self preservation!

  • Art October 20, 2014, 5:27 am

    By all means give criminals a break let them go. We need more crime, and more judges, prosecutors, police, prisons, and the army of bureaucracy that more crime produces.

    • mprsox October 20, 2014, 9:28 am

      I agree, I am only sorry he missed! In Texas, if a property crime happens at night, you can use deadly force. Remember who is the victim here. When will we stop pandering to criminals?

    • Graydon October 20, 2014, 10:31 am

      Art, I don’t think anyone reading this article wants to see criminals go free. I believe the police made a good call in taking this mans CHL. This is why I do not let my wife leave her purse in the car with out locking it up. Conceal carry is useful for defending ones own safety, not shooting at moving cars without fear of being shot at. Were the thieves brandishing weapons; that would be a horse of an entirely different color. Fortunately, once a person is legally carrying, they are bound by the same laws a police officer is. The use of deadly force should not be taken lightly, nor the possibility of hitting via ricochet or direct path, an innocent bystander. How horrible would that man (or you) have felt if that had happened.

      • dink winkerson October 20, 2014, 12:34 pm

        Seriously. If a police officer thought you were reaching for a weapon, they could empty the magazine, and often times not face charges if they hit an innocent bystander. Get over the shit about equality in laws where law officers and citizens are concerned.

        • bob h October 21, 2014, 2:50 pm

          You need to rethink your comment. The actions of Mr. Lee was charged with two violations of Minnesota law both of which are felonies. (Minn 609.66) The most severe penalty he faces is two years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed $5000. A police officer doing the exact same thing- shooting at a fleeing criminal in a moving car that posed NO IMMEDIATE THREAT to anyone- could face the exact same charges and some HAVE. Since as a CCW permit holder he ostensibly has no criminal record the most likely outcome for Mr. Lee will be a reduction of the charges to a misdemeanor, a fine and loss of his CCW permit. A police officer would face the same punishment but would also lose his job as well he should.

  • Gary R Martin October 20, 2014, 4:04 am

    As a Dept of Energy firearms instructor for security personnel for over seven yrs, plus a State POST certified reserve deputy, I never once found a legal law that allowed you to shoot at any fleeing suspect, even most felons. The one main critical rule you must ask yourself, am I endangering someone else’s life, and I am responsible for where each round I fire lands or stops. YOU have no idea what is just beyond your target or where you bullet will end up going, but in courts you will find out for certain if you have hit or endangered someone innocent, not involved in the incident. You “think” you can shoot a moving tire out, but rare is a person who under stress is able to shoot one round and hit his/her intended target. Especially under stressful situations, and thus we issue automatic combat rifles to our first line troops with a 3-round burst limiter on their combat arms. Why, cause they seldom can hit anything in one or two rds, so we have limited them to 3-rd burst engagement, and hope eventually they will hit something, but that is combat, not civilian misdemeanor crimes or even felonies. You shoot, you will probably being doing time, depending on your attorney and the jury listening to your side of the story. It is them you must convince that you knew what you were doing, not me, not the law . . . but a jury, and if you can’t convince them, you will be doing time, most likely.

    • Robert October 23, 2014, 3:48 pm

      Mr. Martin is entirely correct. There is no justification in the man shooting at a fleeing auto. Hopefully this man did not go to sleep during his weapon training classes. In Oklahoma I took the armed security officer course because I was also going to work at Altus AFB as an armed gate officer. (further military training there) Rule: When considering the use of deadly force you have to make split decisions so better know your law and have it memorized. Look up Federal (case) law: Tennessee vs Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 1985 and briefly you will see the scenario where a police officer fired at a thief who was running away and shot him in the head. He later died. He was no threat to the officer or others so no need to use deadly force. Also, when shooting always look beyond the target. If there is danger of your bullet hitting an innocent bystander do not fire. A better course here would be to get the auto license and call it in with a description of the woman and car. They will look at all these things in a court hearing. Now, the Castle Law is a little different. If someone approaches you in a threatening manner and you warn them and they persist you can fire if you feel the threat might cause you serious injury or death. Same in your house or domain. Hopefully this will help some of you.

  • Invidia Absit October 20, 2014, 4:03 am

    I agree. No imminent threat. Unjustified use of force. Purse snatching is no reason to use deadly force unless there is battery or coercion by threat of deadly force.

    • Alan October 20, 2014, 10:10 am

      You missed the part where Lee thought the woman reached for a weapon. That changes things considerably or did you expect him to wait for her to shoot at him or his fiance? They had already showed brazenly, hostile actions.

      • Roger Bret October 23, 2014, 10:31 am

        Yeah, BUT…he didn’t shoot at her when she was “Attempting to get something that could be a weapon”, he shot at her when she was DRIVING AWAY…big difference! All you people….I’m sure if it was your or a loved one standing at the other end of that parking lot in front of the fleeing vehicle, and were struck by the stray bullet that missed the tire…you’d be singing a different tune!

  • Crucible Arms October 15, 2014, 12:08 pm

    I live in Minnesota and am licensed by the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to teach Permit to Carry courses. Based on what is presented in this story, this person had no legal justification for firing at a fleeing vehicle. Neither he, nor anyone else, was in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death. Again, my opinion is based on what is being represented as facts in this story. If these are found to be the facts of the charges, this man needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    • Chris October 15, 2014, 4:16 pm

      I agree completely with Crucible. This is about “justification to shoot” that I’ve been taught can come and go several times in a given confrontation. The assailant is running away, you can’t shoot them in the back – but if they turn and raise a weapon, fire away. Unfortunately, you still have to think about what you may be able to prove after the fact, too.

      • Frank Ripley October 20, 2014, 9:26 am

        The guy was clearly not reckless and furthermore, since when does a person have to give up their property without resisting? That’s the problem with this country. Our lawmakers are more concerned about getting at the easy people than fighting the criminals to make a nice election point. What would a cop do if he was in that situation? We all know what would happen! I love how the guy is painted out to be a “reckless individual” What a crock! Fight back people, and boot out these politicians who want you to surrender everything you hold dear –yes, even a purse. OMG you call this representation? And you wonder why the world hates us?

        • RT8541 October 23, 2014, 10:36 pm

          If a cop did that, they would be immediately fired, and facing criminal charges.

        • Doug C. December 3, 2015, 1:40 pm

          A cop would do what any and every other citizen (with or without a carry permit) should do – CALL THE COPS. You have the vehicle description and license plate. If it’s not dangerous to do so, you could even get in your car and attempt to follow them while you call it in to the cops.
          But what this guy did is exactly what is going to ruin Conceal/Carry for the rest of us. this is EXACTLY what the anti-gun nuts dream about – a reckless permit holder blasting away in a crowded public location.

          If he misses t hat tire< Where is that bullet going? It's going to hit the pavement and ricochet in any number of directions. Bottom line is that this guy took training that taught him that it is ONLY ok to use your firearm if 4 conditions are met:

          –Not even close.
          –Sounds like he met this condition initially.
          –There are MANY Lesser things he could have done
          –The perp was speeding away, meaning that he failed to meet this condition too.

          In this situation he only met ONE of the four conditions. He should lose his permit to carry at a minimum. It sounds like he is carrying and just waiting for an opportunity to use his sidearm.
          Personally, I PRAY that the day never comes where I have to use mine. And if it does, I PRAY that I am able to act appropriately and safely.

    • normusa October 20, 2014, 1:10 pm

      One of the criteria I use is to ask whether there is a death sentence for the act. Therefore, you can’t shoot a shoplifter or someone who dented your fender. If someone is criminally attacking you or a loved one, it is a different story. This person deserves pretty harsh penalties and needs to get better instruction or quit carrying.

    • TR October 20, 2014, 10:35 pm

      The police should worry more about catching the criminal that stole the purse and acted threateningly toward this guy, and should not be harassing an innocent victim just because he is an easy target. There is no injured party except the guy that was defending himself and had his property stolen. The police and courts are getting more and more corrupt because we let them. Shame on all of us! We need to band together to support this guy.

      • Eric November 2, 2014, 7:21 pm

        Agreed. This is, in fact, the core of the problem. Yes, this guy made a mistake when he fired at an unarmed thief. But the point remains that the law tends to amplify the wrongs of the VICTIM of the crime, rather than focusing on the offender. This is likely why there are so many offenders. They know the limits of the law, and they just continue to live within those means. Where is our justice?

    • Russ October 22, 2014, 1:08 am

      Crucible Arms hit the nail on the head with ” imminent danger of great bodily harm or death ”
      I might just ad ; Kidnapping, which probably falls under imminent danger.
      Here’s a tip ; Don’t leave your purse in the car in plain sight , locked or not.
      That couple deserves each other.
      Please don’t make babies.

      PS. Great YouTube Channel = Crucible Arms, Thanks for the quality reviews.

    • Richard October 22, 2014, 8:03 am

      I know the law does not permit firing at a person when not in danger. However, the law is not always right on. Spiritually and morally, a thief puts their life on the line when stealing and forfeits their right to safe conduct. You know what follows.

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