Police: Innocent man shot, clerk 'detained' after alleged potato chip theft

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 22-year-old man is recovering from his injuries after police say he was shot by a gas station clerk on Detroit's west side in what "appears" to have been a misfire.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday the victim is in a hospital listed in temporary serious condition.

The clerk, police say, had pulled a gun to stop a suspected potato chip thief.

The shooting was at about 10:35 p.m. at a Shell gas station on the 17700 block of West Warren. That's just east of the Southfield Freeway.

Police said the victim was leaving the gas station just as another man had allegedly stolen "several bags" of potato chips.

The 27-year-old male clerk followed the suspected thief and fired a shot through the store's front glass door, striking the victim in the chest.

The victim, though, was not the alleged thief. Police detained the store clerk.

Police also arrested the alleged chip thief, whose age was not immediately available.

Craig did not have kind words for the suspected shooter.

"Somone stealing a bag of chips doesn't not warrant you firing a weapon — ever," he said during a news conference held at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters downtown. Craig called the conference to discuss the search for a suspect in a fatal road rage beating that happened Monday. 

The chief said the case has been submitted to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office for its review.

"A simple theft does not warrant firing a weapon through glass and endangering other citizens," he said. "This didn't have to happen."

He said if media reports that the victim and others had been stealing from the store or threatened the suspect in the past were accurate, then the police should have been notified about it. Craig said he was not aware of any such complaints filed with police.  

"This is something you don't take into your own hands," the police chief said. "We will hold store owners, managers and employees who use this type of force to stop someone from a simple theft accountable."