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Read & React: French Jeweler Shoots Robber, Charged with Murder

by G&A Online Editors   |  September 19th, 2013 72
French jeweler

Police cordone the area outside the jewelry store La Turquoise in Nice, France, after the store's owner, Stephan Turk, shot and killed a 19-year-old robber, Alexandra Asli, on Wednesday, Sept. 11. (Photo by JC Magnenet/AFP)

Generally speaking, most of the self-defense stories we hear about come from the United States. It’s interesting, then, when international stories of citizens protecting themselves from harm within legal boundaries hit our desk.

Just as they can in America, however, that fine line between what is and isn’t allowed while defending yourself, your family or your property can easily be crossed.

According to the French news website The Local, Stephan Turk, a 67-year-old jeweler from the town of Nice on the French Riviera, shot and killed an armed robber, 19-year-old Anthony Asli, who tried to flee after holding the jeweler at gunpoint around 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Witnesses say Asli and another man robbed Turk at his shop, La Turqoise, then made their escape on a scooter. Turk pursued the men on the adjacent street and fired a 7.65×17 mm—or .32 ACP—semi-automatic pistol at the men, striking Asli, who was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter. Turk was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter, as prosecutors allege Turk fired his gun at a time when he was no longer in danger.

“After he was threatened the jeweler grabbed his firearm, moved toward the metal shutters, crouched and fired three times. He said he fired twice to immobilize the scooter and a third time he fired because he said he felt threatened,” said Nice prosecutor Eric Bedos, who added Turk’s pistol was in fact illegal. “I’m convinced that he fired to kill his aggressor. When he fired, his life was no longer in danger.”

Even Asli’s sister reached out to media to condemn Turk.

“He shot a kid in the back. He’s a traitor, he’s a coward,” Alexandra Asli told reporters.

Despite the charges levied against him, millions of people across the Internet are showing their support for Turk. A Facebook page called “Soutien au bijoutier de Nice”—meaning “Support to Nice jeweler”—already has 1.6 million fans; social media tracking sites show over 79 percent of those users are from France, while .4 percent hail from the U.S.

It’s interesting to see the reaction from French citizens apparently fed up with a perceived plague of delinquency and violence in their cities, particularly coming from Europe, which doesn’t exactly have a friendly rapport with private gun ownership.

Still, there are parallels to be made with American self-defense laws. In Peoria, Ill., where G&A’s online office is located, the fact that the robbers had already made their getaway wouldn’t be enough of a defense to justify the shooting, and the argument that Turk was simply fed up with robbers and thugs certainly wouldn’t hold up.

What do you think? Was Turk justified in firing at the robbers at that point, or was it no longer personal defense at that point?

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