by Robert Waters
On July 13, 2012, two robbers barged into Palms Internet Cafe in Ocala, Florida. You could tell they thought they looked cool, wearing hoodies fitted with masks. As customers held up their hands or ducked for cover, Davis Dawkins beat computers into submission with a baseball bat while DuWayne Henderson rushed forward, pointing a handgun at the crowd.
It could have been a disaster--two armed thugs pumped up with adrenalin inside a playhouse with 30 senior citizens. Just picture the bodies lying like cordwood on the slick-tiled floor.
But, fortunately, some stories have happy endings.
The robbers were so busy playing cool they didn't see Sam Williams, 71, rise out of his chair and draw a .380 semi-automatic pistol. After making sure no customers were within the line of fire, Williams moved forward.
The sudden crack of gunfire startled the hoods. Panicked, they fled. Williams kept firing as the two tripped over themselves trying to get out the door. They dropped the gun, the bat, and a backpack. So cops should have plenty of physical evidence to convict them.
The suspects, both 19, were treated at a Gainesville hospital. Dawkins received a superficial wound to his shoulder while Henderson suffered the ignominious fate of having been drilled in the butt, as well as the hip. They were both charged with attempted robbery with a firearm and criminal mischief.
Bill Gladson, assistant state attorney general, wrote that Sam Williams’ “use of force was lawful under Florida's statutes regarding individuals rights to use deadly force when resisting a forcible felony, like a robbery.”
Most hailed him a hero. And rightfully so.
Henderson consented to an interview with the Ocala Star Banner. He and Dawkins planned to commandeer all the cellphones, he said, so no one there could call police.
Henderson claimed his “gun was broken and rusty and wasn’t loaded. Nobody was going to get hurt.” (Of course, if that were true, no one at the business could have known.)
After Williams opened fire, Henderson said, “I turned around to run and my leg gave out. That was when I got shot. I hit the ground, and he was still shooting. I thought I was going to die. By the grace of God, [my] leg came back. I ran.”
Henderson was critical of Williams, who continued shooting while he was on the floor. “I was down, and I’m not going to continue to shoot you,” he said.
One of the great things about the Internet is that it has helped to change the dynamics of the gun control debate. Twenty years ago, anti-gunners could minimize the use of guns for self-defense. (New York Senator Chuck Schumer once famously quipped to gun-rights advocates that their stories of self-defense were mere “anecdotes.”) Today, that argument no longer flies. A quick Google search at any one time reveals hundreds of such cases.
Since Palms Internet Café had video surveillance, Williams’ brief burst of heroism made national news.
Take that, Senator Schumer.