Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Gold Coast Robbers Shot by Intended Victims

Willie Byrd wounded an armed suspect who attempted to rob him
Store owners recently took a bite out of crime in Brevard County, Florida. In separate incidents, would-be robbers were shot by their intended victims. Neither store owner was charged and, in fact, were praised by police officials.

At 6:30 p.m., on November 18, two men entered the Gloco Grocery and Soul Food Restaurant in Melbourne, Florida. At first, Willie Byrd, 70, who has owned the restaurant for 22 years, wasn’t suspicious.

One of the men, still not identified by police, ordered a sandwich. Then, according to a recent newspaper article, Byrd “made the sandwich and rang the transaction up on the cash register, but instead of paying for the food the men held a gun to Byrd’s head and demanded cash.”

Byrd handed money to one of the robbers. But when the man became distracted, the store owner grabbed a .357 Magnum he kept beneath the counter. Byrd fired two or three shots at the robbers. One robber raced from the store while the second man staggered outside.

When the Melbourne Police Department arrived, they found a suspect lying in front of the business, still holding a “wad of cash.” The man was transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center where he remains in serious but stable condition. His partner has yet to be identified.

“I’m not trying to send a message,” Byrd said. “I was just protecting myself.”

Commander Ron Bell, spokesman for the police department, said, “[Byrd] was well within his rights.”

A week later, Sowann Suy shot a robber inside the Tower Chevron store and gas station in Cocoa.

“He opened my door, walked through it, and I asked him, ‘Can I help you, sir?’” Suy said. Stephen Hunt pulled a gun and demanded money. The store owner backed up to the cash register, then grabbed his own weapon from a shelf underneath. Suy fired one shot from a .45-caliber pistol, hitting the robber in the stomach. Hunt stumbled outside where he collapsed onto the pavement.

Cocoa Police Department spokesperson Barbara Matthews informed the media that Suy will not be charged. “This man [Hunt] came in and threatened his life with a gun,” she said. “[Suy] had the right to protect himself. We, as citizens, always have the right to protect our lives.”

Suy told the media that he had prepared for this day, knowing that small stores are often targeted by robbers. “I got no choice,” he said. “He threatened me and pulled a gun on me. I gotta fight back. If I don’t do it, they kill me.”

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