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Last updated: Fri. Jan. 23, 2009 - 10:35 am EDT

Fatal shooting said to be in self-defense

Manager says clerk at Belmont Beverage believed he would be shot during robbery.

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Using deadly force

Historically, Allen County prosecutors have been reluctant to prosecute people who kill robbers who enter their homes or places of work.

Michael McAlexander, Allen County chief deputy prosecutor, said he can’t recall a prosecution since he started working in the office in 1984. McAlexander wouldn’t comment on Wednesday’s fatal shooting, but speaking in general, said Indiana law is clear on the use of deadly force by people who believe their lives are in danger.

Indiana Code 35-41-3-2 reads in part, “a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the person or third person or the commission of a forcible felony. No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting the person or a third person by reasonable means necessary.”

Source: Indiana Legislative Services Agency

After a suspected robber shot his co-worker on Wednesday, a Belmont Beverage liquor store clerk didn’t wait to see if he’d be next.

The clerk fatally shot the suspected robber – whom Fort Wayne Police have identified as Donald N. Jones – in self-defense, according to Gary Gardner, Belmont operations manager. Gardner said Thursday that store surveillance video shows Jones enter the store, walk around the counter and shoot a clerk in the leg before robbing two cash registers.

“That’s what was so stunning to us,” said Gardner. “(Usually) all they want is the money and they leave, but not in this instance.”

The armed clerk was behind the counter when the man entered and was on the east side. After taking the money, Gardner said the masked man moved toward the front door, which is on the west side of the store.

As Jones was leaving, “that’s when the bullets started flying,” Gardner said.

Gardner said the clerk opened fire with the pistol he has a permit to carry because he believed he was about to be shot, given the robber’s actions and demeanor.

“The way he spoke, the way he carried himself, he was just very sure of what he (the robber) was going to do,” Gardner said. “The guy is not shaking. He’s not wavering. He knows what he wants. He’s already done harm to one employee.”

Jones, 29, was familiar with the store. In 2000, it was one of the nine businesses the city man pleaded guilty to robbing. Jones pistol-whipped a clerk in one robbery, vowing to shoot on the count of three, “if you don’t give me the money,” according to his arrest affidavit. Jones had a warrant issued for his arrest on Jan. 14 for a probation violation, according to court records.

Gardner said the wounded clerk was shot in the right leg. Gardner said he was in a lot of pain, but in good spirits after being hospitalized. He is expected to be released from Parkview Hospital today.

On Thursday, an employee boarded up a window that had been shot through at the store about 20 yards from where Jones collapsed on East Tillman Road and died. “Some day, yesterday,” a customer told a clerk at the store.

Despite fearing for his life, Gardner said the clerk feels bad about the killing.

“Right or wrong, whatever he chose to do with his life, certainly, he’s got a mother and a sister and a brother just like you and I do,” Gardner said. “It’s just unfortunate that people have to do this kind of thing.”

A decision from the prosecutor’s office about whether the use of deadly force was justified is pending.


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