Mimesis Law
27 May 2022

The Mind of an Armed Vigilante

Dec. 11, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez was recently sentenced to probation after making national and international news for shooting at fleeing shoplifting suspects in a Home Depot parking lot. The situation reinforced pretty much every belief skeptics of concealed carry laws have about citizens packing heat. Her comments at sentencing give us an interesting peek into her mindset, one that will no doubt trouble those same skeptics:

Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez, who was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, said she heard a scream and feared the incident was worse than a theft. She acknowledged the shooting in the parking lot was a mistake.

“I made a decision in a split second,” the 46-year-old Clarkston woman told a judge. “Maybe it was not the right one, but I was trying to help.”

Rochester Hills District Court Judge Julie Nicholson said: “I don’t believe any malice was involved in what you were doing, but I believe you have to think about what could have happened.”

The idea that her thoughts about the severity of the crime they just committed factored into her decision to shoot at fleeing suspects tells us quite a bit. After all, had they just committed armed robbery or even murder, they still would have been fleeing. Indeed, nothing they did prior to driving away could have possibly justified shooting at them as they fled so long as they were endangering no one. Even then, shooting at them hardly makes things any less dangerous.

It seems she viewed her concealed carry permit not just as allowing her to possess a gun for self-defense, but to also do some of the work of law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Specifically, her comments tell me that she necessarily believed she was permitted to either apprehend or punish suspects. It’s a scary thing considering, the only tool she had to accomplish either goal was deadly force.

It’s also quite disturbing that she still thinks it “maybe” wasn’t the right choice at this point, or that she should get some sort of break because she was trying to be helpful by murdering fleeing misdemeanants. In general, we would all be well-advised to think twice about helping when it involves discharging a firearm in a public place.

On the bright side, the public will be protected from Ms. Duva-Rodriguez’s “help” for at least the next eight years:

Duva-Rodriguez was sentenced Wednesday after she pleaded no-contest to reckless discharge of a gun in October. Her permit to carry a concealed weapon is revoked until at least 2023.

“If guns are taken away from her and she learns her lesson, that’s fine,” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper told The Detroit News Wednesday afternoon. “That’s the key. That she doesn’t have access to guns and she doesn’t have access to ammunition. Hopefully someone has sat down with her and talked with her about what responsible gun ownership is all about.”

I find myself in complete agreement with the prosecutor here. The defense attorney, not so much:

Defense attorney Steven Lyle Schwartz called his client a “sharpshooter.”

“We need more people like Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez in our society,” he said.

Duva-Rodriguez fired her gun in the parking lot at the Joslyn Road store, flattening a tire on the thieves’ SUV in October. She saw a loss prevention officer chasing a man pushing a shopping cart from the store to an awaiting Kia driven by another man.

No one was injured in the incident and Duva-Rodriguez wasn’t being threatened by the shoplifters.

I can’t imagine a case like hers is an easy one, but that lawyer isn’t doing himself or his client any favors. It didn’t really make a difference, as she got probation anyway, but it seems he’s as wrong about the message to take away from all of this as his client.

First, I doubt she intended to shoot out their tires like a hero in an action movie would. Even then, calling her a sharpshooter wouldn’t have been such a good idea, as she’s been convicted of shooting unlawfully. It’s hardly something we want to glorify, and some degree of positivity seems implicit in the term sharpshooter.

Second, we most certainly do not need more people like her in our society. Does he really want every big box store parking lot filled with trigger-happy vigilantes shooting at every person they suspect might have pocketed some batteries? It’s hard to even take that comment seriously.

As if her statement and her lawyer’s statements weren’t enough, another story confirms she’s every bit as insightful as you might expect:

Duva-Rodriguez said she had learned a lesson from the incident.

“I tried to help, and I learned my lesson that I will never help anybody again,” she said after her sentencing.

What I gain from that is that I should never underestimate the human capacity for failing to grasp the painfully obvious. It seems Ms. Duva-Rodriguez will no longer be opening doors for the elderly or donating to charity. Because that’s the lesson she should have learned, not anything about responsible use of a firearm.

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  • Scott Jacobs
    11 December 2015 at 11:55 am - Reply

    I wonder if she thought it was OK because the cops like to shoot at people running away…

  • New Mimesis Blog Posts | Tempe Criminal Defense
    8 January 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    […] That one incompetent vigilante at Home Depot apparently didn’t learn anything. […]