From the Intelligencer Journal of July 23, 2008
Gunman killed in robbery try
John Roads believes people should be able to defend themselves against criminals, even if it means using a firearm.
The owner of Power Pro Battery Co., 210 S. Penn St., Manheim, said it was the right to possess a gun that potentially saved the life of his operations manager Tuesday and ended the life of a would-be robber.
Kevin Lee Smith, 19, of Lancaster, was shot and killed by the manager early Tuesday when Smith and an accomplice held up the manager with a semiautomatic weapon, police said. (Police asked that the manager's name not be published, because the accomplice was still at-large Tuesday night.)
Police said the manager acted in self-defense.
"We all have a right to come to work, to do our time and go home to our families," Roads said. "And nobody has a right to take that away from us."
Roads said he was at home when he got a phone call from the alarm company early Tuesday notifying him of a break-in at his business. He later heard from his manager, who told him he had shot a man.
"(The manager) had an angel in his pocket," Roads said, "and I can only hope that I would have been as lucky and as fortunate had it been me."
The manager explained the robbery circumstances to Roads on Tuesday morning, telling him two men were hiding under the wooden steps leading to the front entrance of the building.
According to Roads:
The manager said the two men made a noise under the steps, dropping a cell phone and a backpack and alerting him to their presence.
As the manager put the key in the front door, the two men, wearing black clothing, baseball caps and bandannas over their faces, walked up the stairs and followed him into the business, pointing a TEC-9 semiautomatic weapon at his back.
They pushed him into an office five feet inside the entrance and stayed in the hallway, with a security camera in the hallway catching most of the action.
The two men patted down the manager, taking his wallet and a company cell phone. However, they failed to pat down his other pocket, which contained a small-caliber semiautomatic pistol that he carried for protection.
The manager was told to open the business safe, and as the two men briefly looked toward the door, he pulled the gun from his pocket, firing two shots at Smith, who was holding the TEC-9.
Everything happened in two to three minutes, the manager told Roads.
"They gave (my manager) a split second to defend himself, and he did," Roads said.
The two men ran from the business, dropping the gun near a telephone pole, and they also dropped other items along West Stiegel Street, including hats and a backpack.
Police said a preliminary examination of the TEC-9 showed the weapon was jammed, indicating that the trigger was pulled at some point. Police said they were not sure when it was discharged.
Blood spots were still visible on West Stiegel Street Tuesday afternoon.
Smith collapsed about 400 yards from the business as the other man ran from the scene.
Manheim Borough police were called to the shooting scene near the intersection of South Penn and West Stiegel streets just after 5 a.m., and they found Smith on the street with gunshot wounds to the chest and wrist.
Smith was transported to Lancaster General Hospital, where he died from the chest wound.
Manheim Borough police Chief Barry Weidman said he had never seen a robbery turn so violent in the town.
Weidman said the incident should show criminals that they don't always know who is carrying a gun, and who is willing to use one in self defense.
"It should show criminals that you may get away with things for a while, but it's going to catch up to you," Weidman said.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said his office was looking at the evidence.
Stedman said a person has the right to use deadly force if he or she has a reasonable belief that their life is in imminent danger. It does not have to be a crime with a gun involved.
"Obviously, in cases where you have a gun involved, it increases the stakes," Stedman said.
Weidman said the TEC-9, which he called a "street weapon," was one of the first used in a crime in Manheim. It will be sent for analysis and reviewed for evidence of past crimes through ballistic tests.