timely quote

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.

Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My analysis of the Oklahoma pharmacy shooting

If you've read my writings (as sporadic as they may be), you know I'm a shooter. I carry, I shoot in the USPSA and I support those who support my Constitutional rights. So you can bet I was incensed when I heard that OK county DA David Prater was filing first degree murder charges on Jerome Ersland for what appeared to be a justified shooting.

If you haven't heard the story, Jerome Ersland runs a pharmacy on the south side of Oklahoma City. His store has been robbed before, and now he has a concealed carry license and keeps guns in the store for protection. On May 19th, they needed that protection. The video evidence is clear. Two teenagers, 16 and 14 came in to the store with masks on. The 14yo had a gun. Everyone scrambled and Jerome grabbed a gun from behind the counter. He shot the 16yo and he fell. The 14yo ran out of the store, followed by Ersland. Ersland came back in, went behind the counter and retrieved another gun. He then shot the 16yo again. Then, he called the police.

On the face, we can't see the kid on the floor, and we don't know his condition at the time of the second shooting. We can't tell if the kid he shot was reaching in the backpack he was carrying, or had a weapon or if he was even conscious. I've defended this as a good shooting based on the evidence I've seen, which admittedly wasn't much.

I was up in arms about the charges, because DA Prater is a shooter and a hunter himself. I couldn't fathom why he was charging this Iraq war 1 disabled veteran with murder for protecting himself and his coworkers from these punks with guns. These punks started the shooting, and the police say 15 shots were fired. Ersland was hit in the arm, but the two female employees were unharmed.

Ersland's statements to the press after the shooting was pretty basic:
"Two people came in with masks on gray masks and they said "We want all your fu***** money and all your fu***** drugs."

There were only three workers inside, Ersland and two female co-workers. What happened next was like a scene from a western shoot-out.

"All of a sudden the first thing I know there's gunfire, and I feel a sting on my left arm, and I pull out my Keltec 380 out of my pocket," Ersland said.

And a Taurus Judge revolver out of a drawer behind the counter.

"They were coming around each side of the pharmacy to kill me," he said. "So, I was able to get to my other weapon."

Ersland said with a gun pointed at suspects, he tried to hold them off as long as he could

"They were firing at me from so close, and I could feel the bullet go by my right ear," he said.

About 15 shots were fired.

"Unfortunately I shot the guy," Ersland said. "And he didn't make it."

16-year-old Antwun Parker died at the scene.

"It was a bad experience, but I'm glad that the girls were safe, and I hate it that somebody got killed," Ersland said.
Unfortunately, I have some very good information that there is more to the story than that. Apparently, Ersland hit the 16yo in the head, grazing him and knocking him out. The 14yo was unhurt. After Ersland came back in from chasing the 14yo, he retrieved another gun, then stood over the unconscious teen and shot him 5 more times in the abdomen. He is reported to have said that he wanted to, "teach the n*****s a lesson."

I've wanted to believe that this was a good shoot, and that Ersland was a hero for protecting himself and the other employees. Unfortunately, I can't defend his actions past the first time he shot the 16yo. Oklahoma law is very clear. You can defend yourself from an imminent threat, but once the threat is neutralized, you are done. Anything past that is excessive. Ersland had a good shoot when he shot the kid the first time, but when he came back, the kid was unconscious and no longer a threat. Then, after that, his (reported) statements are really pretty damning evidence.

I don't believe he'll be convicted because this state, and this city is pretty well armed and very sympathetic to those who protect themselves. The problem I have is that this was excessive and a kid died that didn't have to. The threat was neutralized. The second shooting was over the line and Ersland deserves to be prosecuted. His fate will be determined by the jury.

We're in a fight to preserve our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I carry legally, and I am prepared to take a life should the situation warrant, but I hope to God that I never have to do so. The last thing we need is people going outside the line and possibly making our fight more difficult.