On Wednesday evening, a shooting took place in the parking lot of a Walgreens in East Nashville, leading to an investigation into a self-defense claim. According to Metro police, a Walgreens employee notified another employee that two women were shoplifting from the store. The employee saw the women putting items into a store cart and into a large over-the-shoulder bag. He began recording the women with his cell phone and followed them as they left the store without paying.
As the women began putting items into the trunk of their car, the employee made his way to the back of the car. One of the women reportedly pulled a can of mace and began spraying at him. The employee pulled a handgun and began shooting. The women fled in their car while the employee went back into the store and called 911.
One of the suspected shoplifters was a 34-year-old pregnant woman who had been shot multiple times. Her companion dropped her off at General Hospital and drove away. She was then transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where doctors performed an emergency cesarean section to deliver her premature baby, who was not injured by the gunfire. Both the woman and her baby are in critical but stable condition.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing. The employee claimed self-defense and said he was afraid and did not know if either of the women were armed.
To legally use a firearm in self-defense, the individual must reasonably fear for their life or face grave bodily harm. Using pepper spray, which is not classified as a deadly weapon, would not be deemed justifiable. Furthermore, it is not permissible to assume that the women were armed and proceed to shoot them.
In addition, the Walgreens employee’s decision to follow the suspected shoplifters to their car escalated the conflict instead of diffusing it. Ideally, he should have remained in the store and contacted the police. Drawing his gun after being pepper sprayed was an unwise choice that only served to worsen the situation.