Dude in a 7-Eleven Shoots Two Robbers, Kills One….

Store clerk Barrie Engel and the silhouette of a Virginia Beach man who shot two robbers appear in this Virginian-Pilot photo.

A 37-year-old Virginia Beach man was buying a Big Gulp at a 7-Eleven when two armed robbers burst into the store. The clerk and intruders started arguing and tensions quickly escalated. Worried for the clerk’s safety, the bystander pulled out a concealed weapon and fired, hitting one robber in the neck and the other twice in the chest, killing him.

When the police arrived a few moments later, they placed the shooter in handcuffs and hauled him down to the station. But prosecutors declined to file charges. The store clerk, Barrie Engel, thinks the man was a hero. “It was a blessing that he was there at that time,” she told the Virginian-Pilot. “It could have turned out a lot different. It could have been us that died.”

As the debate over gun control rages, an argument we hear frequently from gun-rights advocates is that Americans have a right to self-defense and that an armed population acts as a deterrent to violence crime. Does this incident support or refute their argument?

On the one hand, the account in the Virginian-Pilot does not make the case that the robbers were posing an imminent threat. The unidentified man, a divorced father of a teenage son and an employee of a medical transport business, had every reason to worry. But did he have to shoot? It’s not clear from the article that the bad guys were on the verge of shooting anyone. Do we want to live in a society where ordinary citizens make such life-and-death decisions?

On the other hand, it is a tragedy that we live in a society where ordinary citizens are called upon to make those kinds of decisions! How much of a threat must a gunman pose, one might query, before a citizen is justified in blowing him away? In this case, I’d say Big Gulp Dude was plenty justified. I’m sorry, but when you walk into a 7-Eleven to rob the place, wave a gun around, and get belligerent, you no longer have rights worth considering.

What’s more, you can be sure that the story of this incident will be widely told and retold. Surely, it will have a deterrent effect, at least for a while. Bad guys can case out a joint and make sure there aren’t any police around when they decide to rob it. But in Hampton Roads they now have to consider that they might encounter an armed civilian. Some would-be crooks might think twice.

It’s not a black-and-white matter. I can see both sides of the moral dilemma. But in the end, I come down on the side of Big Gulp Dude. Had the commonwealth attorney’s office decided to file charges and if I’d been on the jury, I never would have voted to convict.

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31 responses to “Dude in a 7-Eleven Shoots Two Robbers, Kills One….

  1. re: ” Some would-be crooks might think twice.” That’s the first thought then upon further – some crooks will see this as a reason to shoot first and not become a “victim”!

    There’s also always the risk that a gunfight will occur and innocent folks die. If that had happened in this case – what would the prosocuters have decided?

    We all get frustrated with punks and scum terrorizing innocent folks and store clerks and similiar and there’s a tendancy to adopt a “dirty harry” attitude but anytime you get a roomful of people with guns – the “good” guys don’t always win and neither do the innocents who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    I wanted also to point out something about gun restrictions (that having nothing to do with this case) – that our “2nd amendment” guarantees us the right to bear arms and that right shall not be infringed.

    There is an existing law that already restricts certain weapons:


    Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968 is a revision of the National Firearms Act of 1934, and pertains to machine guns, short or “sawed-off” shotguns and rifles, and so-called “destructive devices” (including grenades, mortars, rocket launchers, large projectiles, and other heavy ordnance). Acquisition of these weapons is subject to prior approval of the Attorney General, and federal registration is required for possession. Generally, a $200 tax is imposed upon each transfer or making of any Title II weapon.

    I’m NOT saying that these two scumballs could have been prevented from buying handguns – but imagine criminals with fully automatic weapons or similar – a “good guy” with a handgun would be dead meat.

    So why don’t criminals have these higher level weapons? See the law – there are severe restrictions on selling and owning them – including national database registration and a $200 fee.

    You can thank that law 26 U.S.C. § 5801-5872: Chapter 53—Machine Guns, Destructive Devices, and Certain other Firearms

    for keeping those weapons out of the hands of criminals… including these wackos that engage in mass killings…

  2. Live free, or die.

  3. Thank for the report. It’s good to know that a gun was finally used for self-defense. Too bad the data and facts show that more guns do not make for more safety no matter how we wish to believe otherwise.

    If guns and loose gun laws made us safer, Texas would be a model of safety from gun violence. But by now we know of another gun massacre on Sunday in Texas, where it is reported that a white male shooter was not deterred by two armed policemen who pulled him over, and he shot one of them and then took off in a shooting spree which included killing 5, wounding 14, including a 2 yr. old child. It may appear to any reasonable person that we have surrendered our rights and our children’s rights to safety, to the demands of the NRA to not limit guns in any common sense manner. In this case, evidently we have chosen to not live free, but to die.

    For those who chose to look at the facts about more guns making us less safe, there is a multitude of data to consider…


    Thank you for the discussion. I pray that you and your families are kept safe from gun violence.

  4. What has happend is that we’ve had laws for military-grade weaponry for decades and those laws are much more restrictive than other gun laws and they have successfully kept weapons like full-auto machine guns, out of the hands of would-be mass killers. But technology on the legal guns has advanced to the point where they have gotten more capable and essentially equivalent to full auto weapons and would-be killers are now purposely seeking and acquiring those weapons intending to use them to kill large numbers of people.

    None of the above has much to do with the current issue, regular hand-guns were being used. But keep in mind, had it been easy for these criminals to get their hands on a full-auto weapon – they would have outgunned – even more – the guy who was brave enough to take them on 2 against 1.

    The reality is that in any confrontation and gunfight between “good guys” and “bad guys” that if others are present – there is a much higher liklihood that bystanders will get hurt or killed – even from “friendly fire” and that’s what the future holds for all of us – if the “theory” is that we should all be armed as a protection against bad guys.

    Just imagine a world where every store you go into whether a 7-11 or a Walmart or schools or churches has a significant number of people carrying guns AND the tenuous distinction about who is a “good” guy and a “bad” guy is not a bright line so it’s easy to know.

    I totally support the right of people to own a weapon for self protection – but I also favor restrictions on deadlier weapons including registration (like we have right now with deadlier weapons) just as we also do with automobiles and drivers licenses – that restrict vehicle types and driver qualifications.

    We are not going to stop killings of people. That’s going to happen no matter what we do with gun laws. But what we can do is limit the amount of people killed at one time by one deranged person who we say now should have been detected and treated for mental illness – which if you think about it – is far more invasive than registration and restrictions, i.e. for instance, would we require people to have a mental evaluation before they bought a gun or every year after they bought one? Would that be preferable to just plain registration and restrictions for all?

  5. “Too bad the data and facts show that more guns do not make for more safety no matter how we wish to believe otherwise.”

    Completely wrong.

  6. “for instance, would we require people to have a mental evaluation before they bought a gun or every year after they bought one? Would that be preferable to just plain registration and restrictions for all?”

    Absolutely not- it is the perfect recipe for creating and maintaining a police state.

  7. And people who intend to engage in armed robbery or worse buy their guns from licensed gun dealers and undergo background checks. Right.

    From my perspective, we have two problems with shooters. One is the mass shooter. The other is the criminal. While some level of regulation, such as background checks, red flag laws, can, sometimes, help with the first, regulation, by definition, will not address the criminal using a gun to rob, maim or kill. And when one goes into a store with the intent to rob it and brandishes a firearm, one cannot have any expectation he won’t be shot. Even penumbras and emanations won’t protect the bad guys here. Common sense on the part of the prosecutor.

  8. As the pro gun control people always say about enacting new laws, “If it saves just one life, it’s worth it.”

    The same applies here — defensive gun use by a law abiding citizen saved lives. I should know — I was able to thwart an attack on my two kids and myself by simply showing I had my concealed firearm on me. The suspect fled.

    About firearms use by civilians, the CDC’s long hidden report shows good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns all the time:





  9. The story is from July…we do not seem to be getting to many details who the perps were

  10. I’m surprised no Democratic candidate for president has called for the payment of reparations for the two would-be robbers.

  11. Why do you call him “dude”?

  12. The other lesson from this one: Those were particularly stupid robbers. Decades ago, 7-Eleven looked at the matter and took three basic steps that reduced robberies by 70%: Cash control (especially at night), cashier visibility, and training. Along with cameras, limiting escape routes, and working with the police. https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-53286782/stores-learn-to-inconvenience-robbers-7-eleven-shares

    7-Eleven robber(s) can get only a few bucks and will very soon have their pictures in the hands of the cops. You can think of robbing 7-Elevens as Darwinism in action.

  13. Perhaps the guns weren’t loaded? Could that be why the story hasn’t gained traction? It is contrary to the ridiculous hero narrative to which Americans love to cling (yes, like their bibles and guns)? What does escalated mean? “Give me your money” pause “NOW!”?

    I’m sorry. Laypeople shouldn’t be able kill random people with immunity. That’s the job of the state. The great design is complicated. Perhaps the store clerk was a child sex trafficker and the robber was sent by God to kill him. If we are to take the moral high ground (hero) in such situations we must consider all sides and motivations, divine and otherwise.

  14. “Laypeople shouldn’t be able kill random people with immunity. That’s the job of the state. The great design is complicated.”

    Yes, perhaps the two armed “robbers” who burst in to the 7-Eleven were on a mission to raise money for destitute orphans and widows. We’ll never know for sure, particularly those not there on premises of the 7-eleven when armed “robbers” burst into store clerk’s store.

    But clerk Barrie Engel was there. She thinks Big Gulp Dude a hero. “It was a blessing that he was there at that time. It could have turned out a lot different. It could have been us that died.”

    Some are unimpressed. Hamlet or big Gulp Man? That is the question.

  15. Trope? Snobbery!

    • “Trope? Snobbery!”

      You ever been robbed at gunpoint, Peter?

      • Yes. But not by a Dude which presumably means an African-american. Geez. Watch the racism, Reed

        • How completely typical of you Peter. You are consumed by your prejudices and assumptions about other people’s race or color. You’ve just assumed that all robbers of 7-Elevens are black, as are anyone referred to “Dude.” How insulting and condescending your prejudices is black people. You are the racist here, Peter.

        • Good grief. Since when does “dude” refer to African-Americans?

          Does the song “All the Young Dudes” by the British rock band Mott the Hoople refer to African-Americans?

          Does the term “surfer dude” refer to African-Americans?

          And let us not forget “The Dude,” the main character in the movie, “The Big Lebowski” played by Jeff Bridges!!

          • Peter Galuszka

            Check out more recent culture. Suppose the 39 year old is a phd and white? Does a big gulp make him a dude?

          • Peter, I’ve called you dude. And you’re 66! (Although you don’t have a PhD.)

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Nor did Jim label these robbers black or white. But you Peter did, stereotyping them, and Big Gulp Dude too. In my book Dudes are Dudes no matter their color, no matter your stereotyping and condescension toward black people. Same with Shakespeare who wrote for, and was loved by, most all people of London, whether educated or no, rich or poor. Hamlet too has got absolutely nothing to do with race, but with all human nature, and can be understood and appreciated by all. Hamlet has got to do with one man’s weakness and indecision that brings down tragedy on all around him, quite the reverse of Big Gulp Dude whose qualities I greatly admire whatever his color might be. So Hamlet, and dudes, and Shakespeare, and robbery at gunpoint, are lessons for all humanity, irrespective of the false gods of race and skin color that you apparently wallow in every day, clouding your ability to see and think clearly.

        • Foster v. Commonwealth, 412 S.E.2d 198, 201, 202 (Va. App., 1991) (stating “Like self-defense, the circumstances in which the protection of others may be raised as a defense are carefully circumscribed so as to preclude such a claim in situations where one has instigated the fray in order to provide an excuse for assaulting or murdering his enemy. In a majority of jurisdictions, a person asserting a claim of defense of others may do so only where the person to whose aid he or she went would have been legally entitled to defend himself or herself. 40 Am.Jur.2d Homicide § 171 (1968). Thus, the right to defend another “is commensurate with self-defense.” Id. Consequently, in those jurisdictions which recognize the defense, the limitations on the right to defend one’s self are equally applicable, with slight modifications, to one’s right to defend another. One must reasonably apprehend death or serious bodily harm to another before he or [13 Va.App. 386] she is privileged to use force in defense of the other person. The amount of force which may be used must be reasonable in relation to the harm threatened. See Diffendal, 8 Va.App. at 421, 382 S.E.2d at 25-26 (delineating limitations in self-defense context).”)

          Information from https://www.tmwilsonlaw.com/criminal-law/firearms/brandishing

  16. Extract from Why White Privilege Is Wrong, Part 1 by Vincent Harinam and Rob Henderson

    “But why do white progressives insist on spreading the gospel of white privilege? Simply put, they benefit immensely from doing so. Ask yourself: do white liberals gain status among their peers or lose it when acknowledging their privilege? The answer is obvious. We are, after all, a tribal species, easily swayed by the allure of social brownie points.

    For white progressives, white privilege amounts to an institutional superstructure which affirms the unjust superiority of whites. Indeed, if one group possesses a set of unearned privileges that others do not, then this group handles the reins of that society. In this regard, the core tenets of white privilege bear an eerie resemblance to the core tenets of white supremacy. That is, both white liberals on the far-left and white supremacists on the far-right believe in the superiority of whites. The only difference is that one group sees their superiority as a bad thing while the other does not. White privilege and white supremacy are two sides of the same coin.

    Regardless, both interpretations are incorrect for similar reasons. When it comes to differences in group outcomes, the far-left and far-right conflate perception with reality. For neo-Nazis and alt-righters, their supposed superiority lies in their genetics. For those on the far-left, the unjust supremacy of whites is based on systemic discrimination. Both are sorely mistaken.

    Privileges and Plights

    Contrary to the diktats of white privilege, several ethnic groups outperform whites in a number of areas …” End Quote.

    For more of fine article and book see:

    • I always thought that an elected official who happens to be white and decries his or her white privilege should quickly resign from office and urge the appointment or election of a non-white person. Yet, I cannot recall a case of this every happening. Even Governor Coonman Northam hasn’t done this, even when his successor by law is an African-American man. What does that tell us?

  17. Once upon a time I lined up on the tee of a 175 yard par 3. My smooth swing sent the ball not only onto the green but into the hole. In the years since I’ve played some good golf, I’ve played some bad golf. But I’ve never come close to a second hole in one.

    My point? Finding isolated examples where armed citizens prevented potential mayhem is interesting. It proves that it can happen. I just don’t think it’s a statistically likely outcome in most situations.

    As for “Dude” … I get called that routinely. It’s usually a bit of a pejorative as in “Dude, you must be kidding” but it has no racial content. Even my kids will resort to calling me “Dude” when they think I have done or said something outlandish.

    • I tend to agree with you that episodes of armed citizens preventing crimes are not statistically likely to occur.

      However, I must add some caveats to that statement. First, it’s unlikely that such incidents are publicized. I suspect more often than not, absent a connected death, the media never hears about them. And, even if they do, the political bias of the media is likely to result in suppression of the events in many cases. More often than not, the media report and emphasize/deemphasize what’s consistent with its political views.

      Second and at the risk of using an old but true cliché, if you disarm the public, only the criminals will have guns. People who regularly break the law are unlikely to obey gun control laws. Look at the City of Chicago. It has tougher gun laws than many places and many more gun-related murders than many other places. The Mayor’s response to Senator Cruz was simply pathetic.

      And, finally, I too have been called dude many times, including by my kids.

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