We post every story we find about legal gun self-defense by civilians, regardless of the outcome. Stories where the defender is not killed
vastly outnumber those where the defender is killed
From the Allentown Morning Call
of January 11, 2006
Allentown merchant scares off thugs
But police warn against vigilantism, saying it could get you killed.
As he looked out the glass doors and windows of his Allentown store Monday night, Luis Polanco could only make out that three men dressed in black were attacking one of his employees.
Polanco could not see if the attackers on N. Eighth Street were armed, but he thought one was making a stabbing motion. That's when Polanco grabbed his 9mm handgun.
By stepping outside his Mundo 99-Cent Plus store with a weapon, Polanco became the second person in as many days to take matters into his own hands, perhaps signaling frustration over the months-long wave of Lehigh Valley robberies.
Sunday night, a man chased down another man who had just robbed him of his wallet at Seventh and Turner streets in Allentown, police say. The victim began the chase after discovering that the robber didn't have a gun, as he had said. Patrolmen saw the chase and arrested the robber.
No one was injured in either robbery, but that doesn't always happen. Just three weeks earlier, hairdresser Shirley Klotz confronted an armed robber inside her 15th Street Salon and was shot in the forearm.
Despite the impulse to fight back, law enforcement officials caution victims against resisting robbers.
''The bottom line is that no amount of money is worth dying for,'' acting Allentown Police Chief Roger J. MacLean said Tuesday. ''Vigilantism isn't the answer. We need eyes and ears in the community. Money can be replaced, but lives can't.''
Law enforcement officials emphasize that the best way to reduce the risk of being hurt is to cooperate with robbers. Victims should also get detailed descriptions so police can do their job.
Polanco said he had no time to wait Monday night and had to make a split-second decision to help his employee, 26-year-old Jonathon Garcia-Gonzalez, who was on the ground from the attempted strong-arm robbery.
When he went outside, Polanco, 33, said he realized the three men had no weapons, so he held his gun to his side and told them to back away from Garcia-Gonzalez, who was being choked by one of the men while the others tried to take his necklace and money.
Instead of backing away, two of the men lowered their hoods to conceal their faces and moved toward Polanco, who fired a bullet into the sidewalk and chased away the would-be robbers.
''When they came after me even when I had my gun out, I didn't know if they had guns of their own,'' said Polanco, who has owned the store at 116 N. Eighth St., between Linden and Turner streets, for almost two years. ''This is the first time I had to do anything like this. I've never had problems.''
Polanco is aware of the string of armed robberies that have plagued the Valley since the summer and of the violence in the city.
But he said he does not believe that business owners should arm themselves. MacLean agrees, saying that people need to call police immediately when they see something suspicious
''What we need is more unity among business owners,'' said Polanco, who has a license for his firearm. ''We need to be looking out for one another. The more eyes, the better. We wouldn't need guns if we did that.''