Man slain by store worker was parolee with violent past

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 - 11:20 am

A parolee with a history of violent crime was shot and killed by a Rosemont shop employee during a brazen armed robbery in a gritty strip mall Sunday afternoon, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said.

The tiny Metro PCS cellphone store at 8975 Folsom Blvd. was closed up tight on Monday and investigators were piecing together the chain of events that led to the shooting.

Deputies had been called to the business as many as 10 times in the past year for disturbances and "overaggressive customers," and the shop was robbed at gunpoint in October, sheriff's Sgt. Jason Ramos said.

"This guy picked the wrong business to rob," Ramos said.

The drama unfolded about 3 p.m. Sunday, when a man with a handgun walked into the family-owned franchise tucked between a nail salon and a Korean fast-food joint. At the time, two employees were manning the store, and no customers were inside, Ramos said.

But one of the employees had his own handgun and shot the would-be robber several times, Ramos said. He then called 911 and told dispatchers he had shot a gunman attempting to rob the store.

The employees put the handgun used in the killing on the counter and waited outside the store. Deputies found a man with gunshot wounds to the upper body lying in the back of the store, and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, Ramos said.

Officers found one handgun near the body and another believed to be brought in by the employee, he said.

Investigators don't think the would-be robber got off a shot, Ramos said.

Ramos described the deceased man as a 30-year-old parolee from the Sacramento area, with a history of violent crime. The county Coroner's Office had not released his identity as of Monday evening.

While the case is still under investigation, Ramos said, the employees were interviewed and released without any charges.

"There's nothing to suggest they committed any crime," Ramos said. "Of course, it will be up to the District Attorney's Office whether to file any charges, but we feel like they were well-justified in their actions."

Customers and neighbors were stunned by reports of the fatal shooting.

Charles Jordan, walking outside the store on Monday afternoon, said he lives nearby and has been in the shop several times. He wanted more information on the shooting before drawing any conclusions.

"Store owners are arming themselves in this community," he said. "That's something we should think about. A man lost his life, and I would need to know more background to be able to call it justifiable."

DeMarco Miller was on his way into the Metro PCS store to look at new phone cases and found it closed. He had a different take on the fatal shooting.

"Those are the consequences," he said.

Ramos said the shop is along a busy street fraught with crime.

"It's a hot spot for activity, for people hanging out," he said. "The area is notorious for robberies, from Watt Avenue to La Riviera Drive. There are fast-food places and liquor stores that are prime targets for robbery."

While it is still unknown whether either of the guns in the incident were legally owned and registered, Ramos said, the Sheriff's Department has issued an unprecedented number of concealed weapons permits recently. There are about 3,000 Sacramento County residents with such gun permits.

Ramos said Sheriff Scott Jones has been plainspoken about having fewer restrictions on issuing concealed weapon permits, because of increasing crime and decreasing law enforcement resources.

"We support the rights of people to protect themselves," Ramos said.

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