An armed robbery at a Florida shopping center forced a US Army veteran to deploy his personal sidearm in self-defense.
36-year-old Christopher Hill reportedly stole a cash register from a Jacksonville Walmart last Friday, running into the parking lot of the Northside shopping center in an attempt to get away.
After the first vehicle he entered didn’t start, he approached 3rd Infantry Division veteran Michael Reardon, who was sitting in his truck.
Pulling a knife, Hill told the veteran to get out of the truck and began slashing him on his arms and legs, right as Reardon’s wife was walking away.
“After I started blocking his cuts with the knife, I called her, because she was walking away; called her back,” he recounted to News4Jax.
During his attempt to hail his spouse, Reardon retrieved his sidearm from between his seat and pointed it at Hill, who immediately began having second thoughts about his actions.
“He was like, ‘Don’t shoot me,’” Reardon said. “I was like, ‘then get out of here.’”
Repelled by Reardon’s quick thinking, Hill then ran into a Starbucks drive-thru in search of another victim. Finding a woman in her car, Hill told her that he needed to leave the scene because someone was chasing him.
Exiting her vehicle, the unidentified woman retrieved a sidearm from her trunk (apparently, no one in the city of Jacksonville was carrying on their person that day) and pointed it at Hill.
Once again thwarted by an armed citizen and in no mood to be shot, Hill ran into the bathroom of a nearby salon and locked himself in, hiding for only a few minutes before police arrived and forced him to come out, knife in his pocket.
No stranger to entering strangers’ vehicles with bladed instruments, Hill had previously served three months lockup last year for burgling a woman’s car while armed with a knife.
Hill is currently being held on $91,000 bond on charges of strong-arm robbery, aggravated battery and attempted carjacking.
As for Reardon, he was happy he was armed that day.
“These guys can talk about banning ‘assault rifles’ and banning guns, but when it comes and happens to them, they’re going to wish they had one,” he told News4Jax reporter Scott Johnson while wearing an AR-15 themed-shirt. “I’m glad I had (my gun) on me.”
Ultimately, he was faced with a sobering reality: anyone can be a victim of violent crime- at any time and any place.
“You never think it’s gonna happen to you,” he said.
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