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Violent armed robber killed by store employee

Originally ran here as:
"Man Killed In East Hartford Robbery"
by Christine Dempsy and Indraneel Sur, Courant Staff Writers
The Hartfort Courant
November 21 2001

One Of Two Perpetrators Fatally Shot By Employee At Main Street Pawn Shop

EAST HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT -- An employee at a Main Street pawn shop fatally shot one of two masked men during a botched robbery Tuesday evening.

Bill Kane fired the shots after the robber, armed with a pipe, approached him and would not heed his warnings that he had a gun, said Tom Tinney, the owner of Tom's pawn shop at 1100 Main St. A second robber, who attacked Kane's co-worker, fled when the shots were fired, police and Tinney said.

The second robber was chased by an officer and his police dog, who lost him on nearby Rector Street. He was still being sought late Tuesday night.

No charges are expected to be filed against Kane, a police spokesman said. The shooting was the third violent death on Main Street within the past two months.

About 5:30 p.m., Kane was working in the rear section of the shop and his co-worker, Ralph Lane, was handling wares at a jewelry repair workbench in the front of the store. It was a time of day when rush hour traffic typically streams along Main Street.

Without warning, two men armed with metal pipes entered the store, said Tinney, 70, who had been at a doctor's appointment at the time and learned of the episode later from the two employees.

The "two perps came in swinging pipes, yelling, `Open the safe!'" Tinney said, referring to the masked men. "They were hitting the cases and hitting everything with their pipes."

When one of the robbers hit him, Lane managed to trigger a burglar alarm, summoning the police. At the same time, another robber moved toward the back of the store to confront Kane, Tinney said.

Kane, an Army veteran, drew a .380 mm pistol, for which he has a permit. He warned the robber that he was armed.

"Mr. Kane told him that he had a gun, but [the robber] kept coming like he didn't believe it or was crazed up on dope," Tinney said.

Kane "emptied seven shots," Tinney said, and "two of them hit one of the perps." Startled at the gunfire, Lane's attacker fled. Tinney said it wasn't clear whether the man who fled was wounded.

That man ran north on Main Street and east on Rector Street, with Officer John Zavalick and his police dog, Raven, in pursuit. They lost the man on Rector Street, police spokesman Hugo Benettieri said.

The robber is described as about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a slim build. He was wearing a gray sweat shirt, a gray hood and dark-colored jeans, Benettieri said.

As police chased the second man, paramedics rushed the wounded man from the store and brought him to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"I saw him come out and they were pumping him and stuff," said a 12-year-old who walked past the chaotic scene.

Lane refused to seek medical treatment for his injuries Tuesday night.

"He's got a pretty big knot on his arm," and also suffered a blow to his back, Tinney said.

Through Tinney, Kane declined comment.

"Mr. Kane is just terrible torn up," Tinney said. "That's why he doesn't want to talk about it."

Benettieri said Kane's actions appear to have been in self-defense.

Detectives remained at the store into the night, and officers canvassed the downtown neighborhood. Customers of a neighboring Chinese restaurant - some with young children - anxiously walked past the crime scene tape to get their meals.

Dinner in hand, Trina Roller guided her 4-year-old, Austen Pena, away from the scene, where a bullet had punched a hole in the store's plate glass and a pipe lay on the sidewalk.

"It's scary," she said. "I would have freaked if we were in there when it happened," she said of the restaurant.

Tuesday's shooting was the third violent death downtown in the past two months.

On Nov. 9, the body of 54-year-old Diane Johnson was found in a rooming house above the Sports Page Café at 860 Main St. An autopsy showed she died of cranial cerebral trauma, the result of a homicide. No arrest has been made.

On Oct. 1, the body of Michael Alfred Owen was discovered in a room at the Town Hall Inn, which is at 1112 Main St., just a few doors away from Tom's. An autopsy revealed Owen had been killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

Two days later, police arrested Mark Johnson, 46, who lived at the same rooming house, and charged him with murder and third-degree larceny.

Tinney opened the nearby pawn shop about five years ago. Because his business deals in antique coins, stamps and other valuables, and because he is a jeweler by trade, he said, he is used to taking precautions such as having armed workers and a burglar alarm system.

"In this type of business almost everybody has a gun on the premises," he said.

Tuesday was not Tinney's first encounter with crime at the store. "We've had snatch-and-runs before. We've had a couple of big expensive things taken away," he said.

Tinney said he and his workers would not let Tuesday's events stop them from carrying on their business. "If you were to have a bad automobile accident tonight, God forbid, and somebody was killed whether it was your fault or not," what would be the outcome, he asked. His answer was, "You don't stop driving."

Courant Staff Writers Jim Farrell and David Owens contributed to this story.

NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed, without profit, for research or educational purposes. We do our best, as well, to give credit to the original news source who published these Guns Save Lives stories out of respect and appreciation for their willingness to spread the word that Guns Save Lives -- and when an original link is available, we ALWAYS send all our visitors to read the original article on the original site where it was posted. God Bless the Americans that publish these stories - for assisting Americans in hearing the truth about guns saving lives.

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