Just after 1AM last Saturday, two armed robbers attacked a Waffle House in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, one armed with a handgun. Justin Michael Harrison, age 22 and a concealed carry licensee, “thwarted the robbery by pulling his gun and attempting to hold the men until deputies arrived.”
The robbers attacked Harrison in an attempt to escape, at which point he shot and killed one attacker; the other escaped. Deputies “recovered a Hi-Point 9 mm handgun” belonging to the deceased.
The next day, deputies arrested the accomplice, Kenneth Jowan Craig, and charged him with “armed robbery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.”
There was some confusion from one article’s interpretation of an official press release:
“Craig attempted to leave and Harrison tried to block his path. A struggle ensued, and Craig grabbed for Harrison’s weapon and Harrison fired one shot in an effort to make the suspect take his hands off of the gun…”
It might appear from the above copy that Harrison escalated the confrontation. However, interviewing Lieutenant Tony Ivey of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office indicated otherwise:
“The customer who shot Mr. Williams (the suspect that was armed with a 9mm pistol) did so in protection of his own life as a result of Mr. Williams pointing his pistol at him. The customer attempted to detain Mr. Craig by using physical force in the form of grabbing him by the arm with his hand. It was not until Mr. Craig turned on the customer and attempted to take his pistol from him did the customer fire one additional shot in self defense. Mr. Williams and Mr. Craig had attempted to rob the Waffle House using a firearm and the customer tried to detain both suspects until law enforcement arrived.”
Citizens’ Arrest is valid when detaining a suspect committing a felony like armed robbery. Harrison initially tried non-lethal force to detain Craig, escalating to deadly force when personally attacked and in response to the robbers employing deadly force while committing robbery.
A past article noted how not to talk about your self-defense afterwards. In this case, the defender told police he “decided that his life and the lives of the others in the Waffle House was in danger.” This answer paraphrases most states’ self-defense laws.