The best way to stop a shooting is for a good guy with a gun to intervene. Unfortunately, that cost one good guy his life near Chicago last night. Armed security guard Jemel Roberson stopped a bar shooting and apprehended the subject while waiting for police. However, when police showed up, they shot and killed Roberson instead:
Witnesses said a Midlothian police officer responding to a shooting inside a south suburban bar shot and killed the wrong person early Sunday morning.
After security asked a group of drunken men to leave Manny’s Blue Room Bar around 4 a.m. Sunday, witnesses said someone came back with a gun and opened fire. Security returned fire, and according to witnesses, 26-year-old armed security guard Jemel Roberson apprehended one of the men involved outside.
“He had somebody on the ground with his knee in back, with his gun in his back like, ‘Don’t move,'” witness Adam Harris said.
Soon after, witnesses said, an officer responding to the scene fired at Roberson — killing him.
Investigators have been tight-lipped so far about whether the officer warned Roberson or whether the security guard refused to comply with any commands. Witnesses have been far less reticent, claiming that the officer shot without warning — even with other officers present at the scene:
Investigators have not said whether the officer gave Roberson any verbal commands.
One woman who saw what happened said the officer was running out from the bar.
“You hear the crowd yelling and screaming, but when he comes out of that door with that gun up, it’s just pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop,” she said. “The other officers were out here. They know him. They seen him, and once the police actually shot him, everybody started screaming. The officers started screaming, ‘He’s one of us. He’s security.’”
The most tragic part of this was that Roberson literally wanted to be one of them. He had planned to enter a police academy in the near future in order to pursue a career in law enforcement. That irony has not been lost on Roberson’s community. “The very people that he wanted to be family with took his life,” his pastor Patricia Hill told WGN.
Until we see the body camera video and get more information from investigators, it’s better not to leap to conclusions. The state police have taken over the investigation, while the police officer has been put on paid administrative leave, as is the procedure for most departments when police shootings are being probed. Something clearly went wrong here, though, and we should also ensure that Jemel Roberson and his family get answers as to exactly what happened, and why. For those of us who support personal carry as a means to limit violence in our communities, it falls especially to us to demand answers to those questions so as to prevent another tragedy like this — and to seek justice for an apparent hero.