CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The actions that followed the June 29 robbery of an antique store in West Virginia have left some shop owners wondering where they stand in terms of protecting themselves and their property during a hold-up.
After being robbed by a man yielding a gun, the owner of an antique shop in Clarksburg retrieved a weapon he owned and followed the suspect outside the store, shooting at the fleeing suspect’s vehicle. Now the store owner, himself, may face charges.
According to Roger Hardy, owner of West End Antiques, located at 917 W. Pike St. in Clarksburg, a white male entered his store with the seat cover from a truck wrapped around his head and shoulders like a turban. The man brandished a gun, Hardy said, and ordered him to get on the floor. Hardy said when he refused to do so, the robber became agitated and struck him on the shoulder with his firearm. Hardy then relinquished the money demanded by the man, who fled the premises.
Hardy said he called 911, then went outside to see what kind of vehicle the man was using to make his escape. He observed the suspect leaving in a late-model black Ford pick-up truck driven by a woman. The truck exited the parking lot but stopped before pulling onto the main road. Hardy, by that time, had retrieved a gun from his shop, and fired a shot into the rear window of the truck.
Detective Richard White of the Clarksburg Police Department gave this account of the incident to Antique Trader: “It’s basically just a typical robbery. A male entered the store with his face covered up, presented a firearm, and asked the shop owner for the money. When (Hardy) bent down to give the money to the suspect, the suspect hit the owner with a firearm, and left the area.
“We caught one suspect that was with him … a white female. The white male we’re still looking for. We think he’s still in the area. We’re still verifying how much money they did get.” The female accomplice has been charged with armed robbery, Detective White said, adding that no money had been recovered.
So, do antique shop proprietors have the right to protect themselves and their property? “Yes, they do have that right to protect their shop; everybody has the right to protect themselves,” replied Detective White. “The problem in this case was, after the threat was gone … (Hardy) chased after them. That changes things. Right now we’re in the process (of deciding) if other charges will be filed or not. The prosecutor’s office will decide that.”
In a story posted on the Web site for Channel 13 TBV in Charleston/Huntington, W.Va., a Harrison County assistant prosecutor, Traci Cook, stated the law focuses on whether a person is in “imminent danger.” She is quoted: “A person can use deadly force when they have a reasonable belief that they or the person they are protecting is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. I think that if you do keep a firearm, you want to have training with that particular firearm and also speak to law enforcement (about) different situations that could occur.”