During a robbery, a smoke shop employee shot at three masked intruders, wounding one before the others fled. However, it was the clerk who received a slew of criminal charges and was thrown in jail without bond instead of the burglars.
In the early morning hours, 33-year-old clerk Hamzeh Abushariah heard a commotion and went to investigate the storefront of the Arlington Smoke Shop in Virginia. The young father-of-two had been sleeping in the back room where he had been living temporarily when the strange noise stirred him from his slumber.
Fearing a break-in, the employee grabbed one of two firearms, which store owner Jowan Aqrawi had purchased two weeks earlier to defend the property after a recent spike in burglaries. Unfortunately, his suspicions were correct.
According to WJLA, Abushariah came out of the backroom to see three masked intruders, who had broken a storefront window to enter. Unaware of the individuals’ intentions or if they were armed, Abushariah opened fire, hitting one of the suspects before retreating to the back.
According to police, he “opened the door to the sales floor and discharged the weapon, striking one juvenile subject. The employee retreated to the back room but reentered the sales floor and discharged his weapon again as the subjects were attempting to flee the business.”
Arlington County Police confirmed that the juvenile suspect was wounded but expected to recover. However, despite the masked individuals’ culpable behavior, it was Abushariah that the authorities had their eye on.
Abushariah was immediately arrested and charged with malicious wounding, reckless handling of a firearm, and violation of a protective order. Police say that the third charge is because the employee was previously ordered not to have a firearm.
Disturbingly, Abushariah was charged as a criminal while the three intruders were not, although authorities assured the public that they were considering a simple charge of breaking and entering. Abushariah was placed in jail and held without bond. His outcome understandably outraged Aqrawi, who launched a campaign to have the charges dropped, The Blaze reports.
“We bought protection for the store just in case, because on Facebook you see a lot of robberies, a lot of things going on,” Aqrawi said. “4:30 am, three masked men entering your home where you’re asleep. Put yourself in that position, and you’ll have a better understanding.”
Arlington County Police confirmed that the suspects broke into the business and had already begun stealing cash and merchandise when Abushariah came out of the backroom. They only fled after he returned to open fire a second time. However, the store owner claims the police told Abushariah that he should have just “run out the back door” instead of defending himself and the property.
“It’s very sad for America today as American citizens practice their Second Amendment to protect the store and their lives,” the owner added. “Do you know what the police officer told [Abushariah]? ‘Why didn’t you run out the back door?'”
“This is very sad,” the store owner told Fox News. “I was born in Arlington, I pay taxes. The gun is registered and everything is perfect. But I can’t believe as American citizens we are being treated like this. And this gets the criminals out there [thinking], ‘We can go rob stuff, kill people and hurt people and guess what, people have to run out the back door.’ This is mind-boggling.”
Questions about the incident were referred to Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, who released a vague statement regarding the case.
“I cannot ethically discuss an ongoing investigation because doing so would not only risk compromising our work but also unfairly impede on the rights of the accused and interfere with the investigation. Suffice it to say, there is evidence we are not at liberty to share that support the charges, the decision was not made lightly, and we ask the public not to rush to judgment on what is very much a live investigation.”
Aqrawi visited Abushariah in jail in order to bond out his employee, but the $25,000 bond was appealed by the prosecutor. He expressed concern over Abushariah’s health, claiming that he heard him coughing heavily after only a short time in custody.
Aqrawi is furious over the charges leveled against his employee and said the shooting should have been considered self-defense. Sadly, it appears as though criminals have more rights than civilians attempting to defend their lives and property.