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Looter Pays the Price for Targeting Gun Store, Police Say

An armed burglar attempting to loot a South Philadelphia gun store was instead shot and killed by the business’ owner early Tuesday, police say.

The incident comes amid widespread civil unrest in cities around the country following the death of George Floyd, whose neck was knelt on by a police officer for roughly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis last week.

Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests, which in many cases devolved into rioting and looting.

But in Philadelphia, the owner of Firing Line Inc., a gun store and shooting range, was ready to deal with those who meant harm, according to authorities.

On Sunday night, the store experienced a break-in attempt, leading the owner to stay upstairs and guard his business on Monday night, WCAU reported.

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“He was inside of his gun shop overnight because someone had attempted to break in over the past few days,” Philadelphia Police Department Chief Inspector Scott Small said, according to KYW-TV.

It would turn out to be the right decision.

Early Tuesday morning, the owner told police that he spotted three or four burglary suspects on surveillance video using bolt cutters to force open the gate to the back entrance.

A pair of bolt cutters was later found at the scene, as well as a broken lock.

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The suspects broke into the building itself and made it up the stairs, at which point the 67-year-old owner, armed with a Bushmaster M-4 rifle, took action, police said.

“One of the individuals that broke into the property, pointed a handgun at him,” Small told WTXF-TV. “And that’s when the store owner fired his own weapon — striking the one perpetrator at least one time in the head and he collapsed, dropping his gun between his legs.”

The suspect’s firearm, a semi-automatic, was found next to his body, according to authorities. That suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, though the other suspects fled.

A man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder sought treatment at a Philadelphia hospital Tuesday, though authorities could not immediately confirm if he was one of the burglary suspects.

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As for the owner, he was unhurt, though shaken. No charges had been filed in the case as of Tuesday afternoon.

As a news conference Tuesday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he was “deeply troubled” by the loss of life.

“While I understand and respect the rights of individuals to protect their property, I am also deeply troubled at the ease with which another life has been taken among this chaos,” he said, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said it’s best to avoid violence when possible, but noted that people have the right to self-defense.

“I would certainly hope that these things can be resolved in the least violent way possible, but homeowners and business owners do have the right to protect themselves and their property,” she said.

The incident comes as Philadelphia has been engulfed by unrest in recent days. On Monday night, demonstrators, some of them violent, took to the streets again after days of terrorizing the city.

The city has seen widespread looting and vandalism, and on Saturday alone, at least nine fires to vehicles and buildings were started and more than 100 arrests were made.

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