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2 arrested in shoplifting incident that drew fire

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Two Flint men believed to be involved in a Home Depot shoplifting incident earlier this week in which shots were fired by a customer have been arrested, police said Friday.

The pair, ages 46 and 52, are expected to be charged in the Tuesday incident in which a customer opened fire on their getaway car, a black Kia, as it sped away from the store on Joslyn Road. A Kia has been recovered at the 46-year-old man’s home, police said.

Charges involve the theft of property valued at over $1,000, constituting first-degree retail fraud, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Auburn Hills Police Lt. Jill McDonnell said the arrests were made with help of witnesses, police interviews and tips. She said arraignment may not occur until early next week — for the alleged shoplifters and possibly for the woman who was not a victim but became involved after seeing a Home Depot employee chasing after one of the suspects.

“Reports are still being written and when completed and will be sent to the prosecutor’s officer for review,” said McDonnell.

A 46-year-old Clarkston woman, who has a concealed pistol license, witnessed a Home Depot employee trying to stop one of the suspects as he pushed a cart of shoplifted merchandise out of the store. She began to fire at the Kia as it fled. No injuries were reported.

The woman’s actions will be reviewed by the prosecutor’s office for possible charges.

Attorney Neil Rockind, a former assistant prosecutor who has founded his own criminal defense firm, said the woman who fired the shots, if ultimately charged, may have a difficult defense.

“On the face of it, this is a very tough case,” Rockind said. “The defense would need to prove that the woman was acting in good faith, yet from the information currently available, there is no indication that she or others were in imminent danger.”

Rockind said a person can use deadly force only to combat what appears to be an imminent threat of danger.

“A passerby shooting at someone with whom she has had no contact is a different scenario,” Rockind said. “If charges are filed, the case will come down to witness testimony and the shooter’s state of mind. Did something scare her? Why? If not, she would need to admit wrongdoing and seek to mitigate any charges that may arise.”

mmartindale@detroitnews.com