A 70-year-old Vietnam veteran shot at two would-be robbers in Venice, IL, leaving one dead and the other facing first-degree murder charges.
The incident occurred on the morning of February 2, 2017 in the 200 block of Abbott Street in Venice, when officers were dispatched at around 10 a.m. after reports of shots fired. At the scene, officers discovered the body of Billy D. Dickerson, 19, of St. Louis, in his car. A second man, Perry A. Richardson, 23, was wounded.
Illinois State Police determined that the two men approached a parked car on Abbott Street and attempted to rob a couple at gunpoint, but the man, identified only as a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran from St. Louis, pulled his own pistol and fired at the two, who attempted to flee.
The victim’s concealed carry permit was technically not valid in Illinois, which has stricter training requirements than any other state and doesn’t recognize other state’s carry permits. Carry permits are a little different, because training and licensing standards vary from state to state. Illinois is one of the most restrictive and doesn’t recognize any other state’s permits, while 28 other states, including Missouri, recognize Illinois’.
In the wake of the shooting, Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons not only declined to charge the would-be victim, he said the situation was one in which “the necessity for (concealed carry for self-defense) becomes crystal clear.”
It shows that local prosecutors have a lot of discretion when it comes to some gun laws, and Gibbons, as well as previous state’s attorneys, have not been shy about using that discretion in some cases.
“I encourage people to have the permit,” he said Tuesday. “But as far as whether we’re going to spend the precious resources the public provides (prosecuting license violations), I’m not going to do that.”
He added that Illinois state law includes the concept of “necessity,” meaning someone might violate a lesser law to prevent a more serious violation.
Richardson was later charged with first-degree murder, because he participated in the crime that led to Dickerson’s death.
“This case is just another example of two innocent people placed in a life-threatening situation,” Gibbons said. “In this case, the victim was certainly better prepared for the gunfight than the would-be robbers.”
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In a completely separate incident on February 4, 2017, a Houston man was closing up his business and getting into his car when two men attempted to rob him. The owner of J&S Barbecue, who is in his 70s, fought back and drew his concealed weapon, shooting and killing one man while the other man ran and got away, according to Houston police.
“When the first units arrived they found a black male shot on the ground behind the business,” said officer T.R. Jackson. “That man was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. It’s possible that male and another male attempted to rob our complainant out here.”
Police are still looking for the other suspect.