When two armed robbers attacked Krick’s Korner in Reading, Pennsylvania, they were perhaps congratulating themselves as they exited the front door with “money, cigarettes, and lottery tickets.” But a neighbor, alerted after seeing the clerk being held at gunpoint, told them to stop and that he was calling the police. All witness accounts and store video seem to concur that the robbers aimed their pistols at the man, who drew his own pistol and shot them both in the chest, killing them.
Based on the evidence, Berks County District Attorney John Adams declined to press charges against the defender. Moreover, the driver of the getaway car has been charged with conspiracy and second degree murder, because people died during the commission of his accomplices’ criminal action.
Alleged robbers’ family members claimed “it’s not fair” that the two were shot while exiting the store with stolen property, and then aiming their guns at the defender. They claimed the defender “took the law into his own hands and walked away scot-free.”
Within states’ self-defense laws are codes for the protection of third parties, as well as authorizing deadly force for defense when confronted with the threat of deadly force. For example, Texas Penal Code specifically states when you can use deadly force to stop a robbery (Title 2, Chapter 9, Subchapter C, Sections 9.31, 9.32, 9.42.)
Since all reports agree that both suspects aimed their pistols at the defender, self-defense was justified. Therefore, rather than “taking the law into his own hands” the defender simply acted within the law.
In truth, the robbers took the law into their own hands, declaring by their actions that the store owner’s property really belonged to them. If they wanted to operate within the law like the defender, they should have filed a civil action against the store owner, or perhaps campaigned at city hall to explain why they deserve the store owner’s property. (Not that they had just cause for doing so.)
Psychologists call this denial, enabling, and projection, when family members defend unsupportable behavior and instead blame the victim for the consequences of their relative’s criminal actions.
Of course, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation why surviving family members want the defender prosecuted. Under Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine law, he has civil protection against suits filed by survivors. Should he be prosecuted, the family can rob him, too.