VIDEO shows store owner using “assault weapon” to save his life
By Robert A. Waters
Hardcore. That’s how cops described a gang of violent thieves
who terrorized Milwaukee business owners for years. Bouchard’s, just one of the
companies targeted, was a high-end apparel shop. Despite spending thousands of
dollars to crime-proof the business, thieves continued to strike. The store once
lost $10,000 in merchandise in a midnight raid. In 2012, a Bouchard’s employee suffered
gunshot wounds during a daylight robbery. Even though police knew who the
thieves were, they never had enough evidence to charge them.
That all changed on July 3, 2015.
Owned by Palestinian immigrant Rami Murrar, Bouchard’s had
installed surveillance cameras showing every square inch of the building,
inside and out. The store’s front door was constructed of numerous heavy-duty
steel bars and “unbreakable” glass windows. Concrete pylons, reinforced by iron
girders, guarded the front entrance. As if that wasn’t enough, employees had
taken to spending nights at the store in case of a break-in.
That night, Murrar sat at the front sales counter so he could
view outside. At exactly 3:55 A.M., he spotted several men shuffling down the
sidewalk across the street. In the glow of streetlights, he noticed they wore
dark clothing and brandished handguns. It quickly became apparent to the store
owner that another robbery was going down.
Murrar kept a Smith &Wesson M&P semiautomatic pistol
beside his computer. But when he saw the group outside, he knew he needed more
firepower. He quickly retreated to his office and retrieved an AR-15 style weapon, a YHM (Yankee Hill
Machine Company) rifle loaded with 5.56-caliber rounds. While in the back room,
Murrar activated a panic button to alert police of the situation.
When he returned to the counter, things had gone from bad to
worse. On the sidewalk just outside the store, a dark minivan inched toward the
entrance. In the darkness, its back lights flashed crimson and suddenly, the
van charged directly toward the door. A loud bang shook the building as the
back end of the vehicle smashed into the pylons, knocking them to the ground.
Plowing over the downed concrete barriers, the van hit the door, but not hard
enough to break the glass. It moved forward, then backed up again at a high
rate of speed.
This time the vehicle crushed the glass–shards spilled
into the store and on the sidewalk outside. However, the door’s steel frame,
although battered, held. As the van pulled away, three intruders attempted to
force the steel door open. Murrar noticed again that each of the robbers
The store owner later recounted his feelings to a reporter. “I
believed they were going to kill me,” he said. “I was scared for my life.”
Swarming the door, the group attempted to ram through the iron
Murrar shouted, “Get out! What are you doing?” He later told
detectives he yelled so loud he thought he was going to lose his voice. The
robbers paid no mind.
Three intruders backed off and rushed the door again, slamming
it with their shoulders. As one robber kicked the bottom of the door aside and
ducked down to come inside, Murrar fired one round. He thought that would be
enough to warn them off.
They continued trying to force their way into the store.
Yelling hadn’t worked, a warning shot hadn’t worked, so Murrar leveled the gun
and fired 4 quick rounds at the thieves. One bullet hit a padlock, showering
sparks into the air. Three other bullets found their mark.
As the assailants fled, Deshuin Byrd-McWay fell to the
pavement. He staggered up, then fell again. The other thieves hopped into a waiting
getaway car and raced away.
Detectives wrote in an incident report that Murrar was in
shock after the shooting: “[The shop owner] stated that after he fired the gun,
he observed the suspects run past the window that faces south. Murrar then
started looking for his cell phone to call 911. Murrar stated that he was
looking right at his cell phone but it wasn’t registering that it was in front
of him. He finally realized his phone was there and called 911.”
Murrar wisely called his attorney, John S. Schiro, to sit with
him during his interview with police. (In fact, a detective had initially “detained”
Murrar for “recklessly endangering safety.”) But she soon realized that this
was a classic case of self-defense and interviewed him as a witness.
Almost as soon as cops arrived at Bouchard’s, they received
information that a man had just been admitted to Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital with
multiple gunshot wounds. While several detectives hurried to the hospital,
others examined the crime scene. Investigators determined that Murrar had fired
five rounds. Surveillance video had captured the entire episode as it unfolded.
(Murrar later released the video to reporters.)
In addition to the shots fired by Murrar, a lone “ghost
bullet” had been located at the crime scene. It was an unfired .22-caliber cartridge
found inside the store. Some investigators believed it may have been dropped by
one of the robbers.
The store owner told detectives that as soon as the thieves
turned to run, he stopped firing. Again, video confirmed his account.
On the street in front of Bouchard’s, cops discovered an
abandoned Chrysler Town and Country minivan. It was still running. Cops learned
that it had been stolen shortly before the attempted robbery. Unfortunately,
little evidence was found to identify the criminals who took it.
Six years in prison and seven years’ probation
At the hospital, Byrd-McWay lay in serious condition. He’d
been shot in the right shoulder, left elbow, right hip and left hip. He was
soon transferred to Froedtirt Hospital where he underwent surgery. After
spending several days in ICU, the robber recovered enough to be moved to the
Two suspected members of the crime ring had taken Byrd-McWay
to the hospital. However, none of the men would speak to police. There was
little incriminating evidence at the crime scene, so no one except Byrd-McWay was
charged. While he was in jail awaiting trial, however, recordings
emerged of his conversations with a girlfriend. Byrd-McWay admitted to being
one of the robbers and told his friend he initially thought he would die from his
wounds. In language splattered with expletives and vile racist terminology, he
showed he had no remorse whatsoever for what he’d done.
Byrd-McWay pleaded guilty to one count each of burglary and
criminal damage to property. Court documents state that “on count one, the
circuit court imposed an eleven year sentence, with six years of initial
confinement followed by five years of extended supervision. On count two, the
court imposed a concurrent two-year sentence, with one year each of initial
confinement and extended supervision. Byrd-McWay was ordered to pay restitution
in the amount of $14,337.16.”
He has served most of his sentence and will be released soon.
Rami Murrar was cleared of any wrongdoing
Murrar made several statements to the Milwaukee media. He told
reporters that “there was a lot of guys out there, so I believe if they would
have gotten through that door, I would’ve been dead, so that’s the reason I
reached for my gun. I came here to make my living, not to have a shootout or
shoot at somebody.”
His lawyer summed it up. Schiro said, “This was pretty clearly
an exercise in self-defense and implementing the new Castle Doctrine which says,
‘You don’t have to let people break into your business.’”
Rami Murrar was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.
In a final footnote to the case, Bouchard’s published the
following Instagram post:
“JUST TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT, WE GO TO WORK TO MAKE OUR
LIVING AND FEED OUR FAMILIES NOT TO HAVE SHOOTOUTS…DON’T COME TO OUR
ESTABLISHMENT WITH GUNS OR TRY BREAKING IN OUR STORES AND EXPECT LESS THAT US
DEFENDING OURSELVES AND IF THIS IS WHAT IT’S GONNA TAKE THEN LET IT BE, WE WILL
PROTECT OUR BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEES AT ANY COST.
The video also shows the perfect example of dumb criminals.
These are the steps:
Steal a van
Crash the stolen van into a store and make all of
that loud noise when it’s quiet at night.
Don’t expect anyone to be monitoring or securing they’re (sic) small business.
Leave with nothing
WE LOVE MILWUAKEE, WE HAVE BEEN IN THE MARKET SINCE 1988 AND WE
WILL ALWAYS BE AROUND.”
The author used police reports, court documents, and media accounts to write this story. I have researched self-defense stories for nearly three decades. Please check out my latest book, Guns and Self-Defense, written with my son, Sim Waters. You’ll find many more accounts of gun owners defending themselves from ruthless robbers, rapists, home invaders, and violent predators of all stripes.