(LA) Victims' advocate: Don't prosecute storeowner in shooting


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Drizzt
May 10, 2003, 01:09 AM
Victims' advocate: Don't prosecute storeowner in shooting

Mandy M. Goodnight / The Town Talk
Posted on May 8, 2003

The risk of being shot is one of the occupational hazards faced by burglars, and rightfully so, says a victims' rights advocate.

James Sandifer, president of the Louisiana Crime Victims Coalition and Common Sense Against Crime, said he believes the store owner who shot two burglars on Tuesday morning in Alexandria should not be prosecuted.

No charges have been filed against Coy Gremillion, owner of the Tobacco Shop on Elliott Street. He shot two burglars who entered his store at 3 a.m. Tuesday, police said. One of the burglars died.

Sandifer said residents should have the right to protect their families and property.

Criminals who unlawfully enter other people's homes or businesses "are wide open to the consequences," Sandifer said.

The wounded burglary suspect has been arrested, but no charges have been filed against Gremillion, 52, of Woodworth.

After an Alexandria Police Department investigation of the incident is complete, a report will be turned over the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office for grand jury consideration.

Under justifiable homicide in the state criminal code book, it is lawful if a person enters or attempts to illegally enter a dwelling, business or motor vehicle.

The statute also states that the person committing the homicide "reasonably believes that the use of deadly force" would stop the intruder or make him or her leave.

In January, a Ville Platte storeowner shot and killed an alleged robber.

Leon Scott, 22, of Ville Platte was killed during a robbery attempt at the K&T Grocery on West Lincoln Road, authorities said.

Scott was fatally shot in the face and side by the storeowner, police said.

Scott was among three men accused in connection with the robbery.

The storeowner was not charged with a crime for shooting Scott.

Evangeline Parish District Attorney C. Brent Coreil told The Town Talk on Wednesday that he has determined no further inquiry was needed in the case, and it would not go before a grand jury.

The unidentified storeowner and his wife were closing the store when the men entered, allegedly armed, police said. There was an exchange of gunfire, and Scott was hit. He died at the local hospital.

The storeowner and his wife were not injured.

The Tobacco Shop on Elliott Street reopened for business Wednesday.

Calls poured into The Town Talk on Wednesday in support of Gremillion and his actions.

"He deserves a medal," one woman said. "Maybe this will stop other criminals from breaking into businesses."

However, police said they do not want residents putting themselves in harm's way, and they hope residents and business owners would allow officers to handle burglary situations whenever possible.

Gremillion fatally shot Burnell Battles Jr., 31, of Alexandria and wounded Kenard Metoyer, 29, of Alexandria, about 3 a.m. Tuesday when the two allegedly entered his store through the ceiling.

The store was closed at the time, and the alleged burglars were armed only with burglary tools, police said.

Metoyer, who was shot in the leg, was arrested on a charge of aggravated burglary. He remained in the Rapides Parish Jail Wednesday. Bond was set at $10,000.

On Wednesday, there was no sign of the incident inside the store as customers walked in and made their purchases.

The two employees at the counter said they were advised not to issue any comments about the shooting.

Gremillion was not at the store and could not be reached for comment.

Police said Gremillion had reported recent burglaries at his shop and had decided to stay inside it at night in an effort to deter break-ins.

Battles and Metoyer allegedly entered the strip mall where the shop is located through a side door, detectives said.

They went into an office space adjacent to the Tobacco Shop and climbed over the dividing wall through the ceiling, investigators said.

When they entered the store, Gremillion opened fire, police said.

Police did not release how many times Battles was shot, but did say an autopsy had been requested.

Alexandria Police Sgt. Don Weatherford said residents do have the right to protect themselves and their property.

However, he said officers do not want people to put themselves in harm's way.

When a resident confronts a burglar, it is unknown if the intruder might be armed or if the intruder could snatch the weapon from the resident and use it against him.

Weatherford said police would prefer that residents allow officers to handle a burglary situation since it is what they are trained and paid to do.

He said at the first sign of a problem, call 911 so officers can respond.

Alexandria Mayor Ned Randolph, who as a state senator introduced and passed the "Shoot the Burglar" bill in the Legislature in the early 1980s, said Wednesday that his bill added residences to the justifiable homicide statute. Businesses were already covered.

He said he introduced his bill so residents could protect their homes and families from intruders. It did not address protection within businesses.

Most storeowners contacted by The Town Talk on Wednesday were mum on the incident, but some ventured to say they felt Gremillion was protecting his business from the criminals that target local owners.

None of them would say if they would do the same thing if placed in the same situation.

Most callers to The Town Talk said the actions of Gremillion were justified since his business was a target for a crime.

"He took care of his property and his livelihood," one man said.

Most Rapides Parish law enforcement officers said they couldn't recall in recent memory a local case like Tuesday's shooting at the Tobacco Shop.

Rapides Parish District Attorney James "Jam" Downs agreed.

The closest incident he could recall happened in 1997 when a robbery victim shot the gunman as the gunman left the scene on foot.

In that case, Carl Chelette was pumping petroleum in an underground tank at a store on Lee and Overton streets. The store was closed.

Sixteen-year-old Kevin Lacour walked up and pointed a shotgun into Chelette's face and demanded his wallet, investigators said.

Chelette reached into his truck and brandished a weapon, firing at the teen, killing him, police said.

Downs said no charges against Chelette were pursued.

http://www.thetowntalk.com/html/8C7ECECB-7B67-4934-A219-04E5FA80985B.shtml

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Standing Wolf
May 10, 2003, 06:28 PM
I've got cigarette butts in ash trays that are worth more than the life of any criminal who breaks into my house.

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