Friday, December 12, 2003

Phoenix, Arizona

From the December 11, 2003 Arizona Republic:
Jorge Portillo said he didn't have a choice.

He and his father chased a man from Portillo's home, hoping to stop him for police and get back a stolen drill. But when the suspect tried to run them off the road and then pointed a gun out the window at them, Portillo said he had to do something he never thought he'd do: shoot at someone.

"My life was threatened at the time. I had to protect myself and my dad," the 24-year-old said Wednesday.

"I wasn't going to wait for him to shoot first."

Justin Russey, 22, was hit by at least one bullet and lost control of the pickup truck he was driving, rolling the vehicle onto its side and sliding into a fence. He died at the scene.

"I feel bad, especially when you see his face," Portillo said. "Over a drill. I'm sorry."

Phoenix police say the shooting was self-defense and they will not seek charges.

Russey had a string of arrests since 1999, for shoplifting, burglary, theft, forgery and drug possession.

The truck he was driving was stolen and contained loot from another burglary, police said. A gun also was found.

"People are fed up with thieves and burglars ripping them off," Detective Tony Morales said. "They happened to catch this guy in the act, and they did what they thought was right. . . . I don't fault them at all for that."

Portillo said he wanted to stop Russey because he felt police otherwise would not be able to find him.

Still, he said, if he had to do it again, he wouldn't chase Russey. Not for a drill.

"I got real mixed emotions right now," Portillo said. "I took somebody's life."
But let me emphasize--not over a drill. Because Russey was prepared to kill Portillo--over a drill.

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