Store Owner Shoots Two Armed Robbers
October 9, 2000
An excerpt from a fantastic
article originally published at http://www.nydailynews.com and
written by Heidi Evans, Daily Staff News Writer
After 12 years alone behind the cluttered
counter of his small Brooklyn greeting-card store, shopkeeper Joe Chen’s gut
told him trouble had just walked through the door.
One man, looking tense, bought a 25-cent pack
of Winterfresh gum and stayed at the front near the door. The other circled
toward the back, checking to see if anyone else was in the store.
Watching all this, Chen quietly reached deep
into a pile of plastic shopping bags, where he has kept a licensed loaded
handgun for the last seven years.
Then came the moment he was dreading.
"Gimme the money!" the man who bought
the gum demanded. At the same instant, the man’s accomplice hiked up his
jacket and reached for what looked like a Tec-9 submachine gun in his waistband.
Chen fended off two criminals with a .380-caliber gun.
The mild-mannered Chen, who never had used a
gun before, was the faster draw.
James Baylor, a 32-year-old career criminal,
fell to the floor in front of the Halloween candy, with four bullets lodged in
his chest. Chen then turned to the other man, later identified as Antoine James
Miles, and shot him once in the side before throwing himself down on the floor
to take cover.
Both suspects made their way out of the store,
but Baylor collapsed on the street in front of Chen’s gumball machines,
gasping for breath, his loaded .380-caliber gun next to him on the sidewalk.
"I didn’t aim. The whole thing was so
close, so fast," said Chen, a 43-year-old husband and father who has a warm
and easy relationship with his customers and fellow shopkeepers. "I
didn’t even hear the shots. But my neighbor told me it was very loud."
In fact, said the fruit market owner who came
to Chen’s aid but declined to give his name, "He was in shock. Imagine if
it had been your life on the line."
This was not the first time Chen’s life and
the store he calls Cardville had been threatened at gunpoint. On two occasions
within a two-week span in July 1993, robbers entered the store at 1625 Cortelyou
Road in Flatbush and demanded cash.
The first time, Chen said, he just handed over
the $70 in his register. The second time, when a friend was in the store with
Chen, he was emboldened to act. Chen foiled the stickup attempt by grabbing the
robber’s weapon while his friend wrestled the gunman to the floor until police
Shaken after those two incidents, Chen obtained
a gun permit in 1994 and bought a $600 black 9-mm. Glock handgun at a Brooklyn
sporting goods store. He took a few lessons and did not fire the gun again until
the morning of Oct. 9.
With mayhem around him and his heart pounding
that day, a dazed Chen dialed 911. "Please come," he said. "I
to read full story, a most excellent tale of life in Brooklyn, and of the honor
and hard work this fine man was defending. If the story is no longer at that
link, search http://www.nydailynews.com
for a story by the title of: Hero's
World Turned Around published on October 29, 2000. It's worth the time
it takes to read it.
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