From the New York Times of August 13, 2009
Harlem Store Owner Shoots 4 Robbers, Killing 2
They strode into the restaurant supply store in Harlem shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday, four young men intent on robbery, one with a Glock 9-millimeter pistol, the police said. The place may have looked like an easy mark, a high-cash business with an owner in his 70s, known as a gentle, soft-spoken man.
But Charles Augusto Jr., the 72-year-old proprietor of the Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame Corporation, at 523 West 125th Street, near Amsterdam Avenue, had been robbed several times before, despite the fact that his shop is around the corner from the 26th Precinct station house on West 126th Street.
There were no customers in the store, only Mr. Augusto and two employees, a man and a woman. The police said the invaders announced a holdup, approached the two employees and tried to place plastic handcuffs on them. The male employee, a 35-year-old known in the community as J. B., struggled with the gunman, who then hit him on the head with the pistol.
Watching it happen, Mr. Augusto, whom neighborhood friends call Gus, rose from a chair 20 to 30 feet away and took out a loaded Winchester 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with a pistol-grip handle. The police said he bought it after a robbery 30 years ago.
Mr. Augusto, who has never been in trouble with the law, fired three blasts in rapid succession, the police said, although Vernon McKenzie, working at an Internet company next door, heard only two booms, loud enough to send him rushing to a window, where he heard someone shout: “You’re dead! You’re dead!”
The first shot took down the gunman at the front. He died almost immediately, according to the police, who said he was 29 and had been arrested for gun possession in Queens last year and was the nephew of a police officer.
Mr. Augusto’s other two blasts hit all three accomplices, who stumbled out the door, bleeding.
One of them, a 21-year-old, staggered across 125th Street and collapsed in front of the General Grant Houses, a nine-building complex with 4,500 residents, one of the city’s biggest housing projects. Someone called 911, and an ambulance rushed him to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, where he was dead on arrival. The police said he had a record of arrests for weapons possession and robbery.
Another wounded man left a blood trail that the police followed to 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The fourth wounded man was picked up, on the basis of witness descriptions, at 128th Street and St. Nicholas Terrace. Both were taken to St. Luke’s.
The names of the men who were shot — two dead and two wounded — were not immediately released by the authorities. The two at the hospital, both 21 years old, were in stable condition late Thursday night, the police said.
From the New York Times of August 14, 2009
Back at Work, Harlem Store Owner Recounts Shooting
A day after shooting four men who tried to rob his restaurant supply store, killing two of them, Charles Augusto Jr., 72, was back at work in Harlem on Friday morning. His feelings the day after he pulled the trigger? “I wish I didn’t need to,” he said.
Mr. Augusto, who goes by Gus, opened the shop, the Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame Corporation, at 523 West 125th Street, near Amsterdam Avenue, at 8 a.m. He was accompanied by an employee who had been hit with a pistol during the robbery Thursday afternoon. After the employee was struck, Mr. Augusto picked up his shotgun and fired it three times.
The shots killed two men, James Morgan, 29, and Raylin Footman, 21, and wounded two others, Bernard Witherspoon and Shamel McCloud, both 21, the police said. The two survivors are being charged with robbery, the police said.
Mr. Augusto said he had bought the gun, a Winchester 12-gauge pump-action with a pistol-grip handle, after a robbery 20 years ago and had a permit for it. “Not even touched in 20 years,” he said. “Not even touched. I wish I didn’t need to.”
The employee, who goes by J. B. and declined to give his last name, said that he “lost my mind” while the robbers tried to restrain him with duct tape, and that when he struggled, he was hit with the pistol. “Better him with a tag on his toe than my mother planning a funeral for me,” he said of the gunman.