CHICAGO (FOX 32 News / AP) — Chicago police say they won't charge a customer with a concealed carry license who shot and killed an armed man during an attempted robbery of a store on the city's southwest side.
Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says investigators classified the shooting as self-defense after they reviewed witness statements and surveillance videos from the store and currency exchange.
A masked man walked into the store and currency exchange about 7 p.m. Saturday on the city's southwest side, displayed a handgun and announced a robbery to an employee, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. The gunman then pointed his weapon at another employee and forced her to the back of the store.
The armed customer then fatally shot the man, identified Sunday by the Cook County medical examiner's office as 55-year-old Reginald Gildersleeve.
"I'm just closing up the store and this man walks in with a gun. I guess it was fake but it looked really real," said store clerk Carolina Cavrales.
Cavrales said it didn't take long to figure out that the masked man who walked into her family's Currency Exchange Saturday night was ex-con Gildersleeve, who’s known her family for years and even worked at the store.
After announcing the robbery, Gildersleeve went into the back room and pointed what appeared to be a gun at Cavrales’ aunt while she was working with a customer.
"A customer that was with her saw the gun that was up to my aunt's head. The robber, Reggie, moved the gun, put it to another lady's head. And the customer responded. Shot him," Cavrales said.
FOX 32: What did the customer say?
"He felt really bad. He said he just shot him. He didn't mean to kill him. He just meant to stop him but he said it just happened,” Cavrales said.
FOX 32: The police are saying this was justified. He had a concealed carry permit.
"A conceal carry permit doesn't mean you should shoot someone," said GILDERSLEEVE'S stepson, Igbinosa Oronsaye.
Gildersleeve's family says the ex-con didn't deserve to die because his weapon turned out to be a paintball gun.
"The customer wasn't actually threatened, so basically he was trying to play vigilante or something like that... and I don't understand. I really just do not understand," Oronsaye said.
FOX 32: You're glad this customer was here?
"Yeah I do. I thank him for my life. Even though it was a fake gun I really thought something was going to happen to us," Cavrales said.
Illinois law permits the use of deadly force by a civilian "...when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary.... to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony."
"The customer, he saw our lives were in danger and he responded. It's no one's fault but Reggie's," Cavrales said.
A state police spokesman says the proper use of deadly force is among the topics covered in the 16 hours of mandatory training required to get a concealed carry license.
Last month, a Michigan woman with a concealed carry license shot at shoplifters fleeing a Detroit-area Home Depot store, flattening a tire of their SUV. No one was hurt, and the suspected shoplifters were arrested several days later. The woman faces up to 90 days in jail after pleading no contest to a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm. Two other shootings in which citizens fired at lawbreakers or potential lawbreakers also happened in September in Michigan.
"It's a slippery slope" when it comes to the question of whether citizens who are licensed to carry guns should intervene in dangerous situations, if at all, Guglielmi said.
"You have situations like this," he said, referring to the foiled Chicago robbery. "And you have situations that end tragically. The department is not going to advocate for what people should or shouldn't do."
Police have not identified the customer.