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Authorities urge people to know gun laws after shots fired incident

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said a suspect who committed fraud assaulted multiple employees and a customer while leaving. The sheriff’s office said the customer pulled out his gun and fired at the suspect to protect himself and the employees. (WWMT/Andrew Bisset)

Authorities are investigating a shots fired incident that happened at the Oshtemo Township Meijer early Saturday morning.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office said a suspect who committed fraud assaulted multiple employees and a customer while leaving. The sheriff’s office said the customer pulled out his gun and fired at the suspect to protect himself and the employees.

Investigators said the suspect left in a car, and they don't believe anyone was struck by gunfire. The Meijer corporate office said the store is actively cooperating with the sheriff's office on the investigation. The sheriff's office is reviewing security footage from Meijer to determine if charges will be filed.

Newschannel 3 spoke with experts about how civilians should act in similar situations. In Michigan, people who have concealed pistol licenses are permitted to use their weapons in very specific situations, but even if people are legally justified in using their guns, authorities said that doesn’t mean they always should.

Monica Ferrucci works in the D&R Sports firearms department, and has been training people for their concealed pistol licenses for about ten years. She teaches them the circumstances in which they can legally use their guns under Michigan law.

"You have to be under the threat of immediate bodily harm, injury, death or rape, and that threat has to be immediate. So, if you fear for that to happen to you or someone else, the law says you can use a firearm to protect yourself, to defend yourself,” Ferrucci said. “It has to be now, right now. If someone says tomorrow, in thirty minutes, that's not immediate.... The threat has to be here. They can't be going away from you. They can't, you can't go toward the confrontation."

Because he wasn't there, and doesn't have all the information, lieutenant Michael Treu with KDPS couldn't comment on whether the Meijer customer’s actions were justified. In general terms, Treu said people with CPLs shouldn't pull the trigger unless they absolutely need to.

“There's a high likelihood that you're not going to hit somebody with every round that you fire. Those bullets are going to go somewhere. If you're in a store somewhere, and there's innocent people, and there's children and mothers walking through, there's a high likelihood that you're going to hurt or kill somebody else, an innocent person,” Treu said.

He said the CPL law doesn't protect the use of a gun against the threat to personal property, or minor injury, but because imminent threats aren't always so easy to define under duress, sometimes people have to make judgement calls.

"But the recommendation would be, if you have the opportunity, to either retreat, or to diffuse the situation, to do that,” Treu said.

Ferrucci, a proponent of the motto “refuse to be a victim," also said using a gun is not always the best option: “It shouldn't be your go-to. No one wants to have to use it. You just want to stop a threat, and go home at the end of the day," she said.

Police said it's important to remember any illegal use of a weapon is subject to criminal prosecution, leaving the decision of whether the use was justified up to a prosecutor and potentially a jury.

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Customer shoots at suspect accused of assaulting Meijer employees

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