Shooting suspect thought cop was criminal


On a day where almost everything went wrong, Atibi Thomas and Keith Roach were lucky about one thing when they met nearly two years ago: Roach wore his bulletproof vest.

After becoming a crime victim, Atibi Thomas shot a cop in uniform.  He says he was confused.

After becoming a crime victim, Atibi Thomas shot a cop in uniform. He says he was confused.

If Roach had removed the vest when he ended his shift as an Atlanta police officer at 
3 p.m. on May 29, 2010, he would be dead and Thomas would be facing a life sentence in prison — if not the death penalty — instead of the 25 years he faces this week.

Thomas shot Roach three times when the officer was in full uniform, fracturing Roach’s rib, piercing both arms and shattering a cellphone in a pocket above the officer’s heart. Why? He said he thought the officer was a crook.

Thomas, a DeKalb County merchant who at that moment was a victim of crime, said he believed the officer to be part of a robbing crew with which he had just exchanged gunfire. Roach, who had just left work in his Chevy Tahoe, heard the gunfire and drew his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson on a fleeing Thomas, the only man he saw with a gun.

It was a moment that altered the lives of two longtime solid citizens. This week, both are looking for closure in Fulton Superior Court, where the case is scheduled to be heard. Thomas, who has refused all plea bargains, wants his record cleared. Roach believes Thomas needs substantial time in prison.

“This guy was shooting in broad daylight, and all I could do was react,” Roach said. “I was in full uniform. There is no way he could look at me and not believe I was a police officer.”

Thomas had steered clear of trouble for his 31 years and held a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with hopes of becoming an actuary. He contends he only sought to protect himself but made a horrible mistake prompted by fear, confusion and adrenaline.

“I hope the jury can understand that I am not a criminal,” he said.

District Attorney Paul Howard said Thomas originally started to surrender to Roach before shooting him. That doesn’t warrant a free pass, the prosecutor said.

“He says, ‘I shot him, let me apologize and go,’ ” Howard said. “He needs to accept responsibility.”

‘You got rims?’

According to interviews, court documents and police records, the case began when Leland Cortez Sims and Darrlin Vernard Warner walked into the Autotron in Lithonia on the Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. They wanted to buy four tires with 26-inch rims, which Thomas, a manager at the store, had advertised on Craigslist.

The deal was quickly clinched. The men paid Thomas $2,000 in cash, which included a fee to deliver the wheels to the West End in Atlanta.

Thomas loaded the tires into a truck, but before leaving to follow the customers to their residence, he handed the $2,000 to his father.

He became nervous when he saw the men’s Honda Accord peel off I-20 at Flat Shoals Road, seven exits before West End. But instead of turning around, Thomas exited at Lee Street in West End and pulled into the Shell station to phone Sims and Warner. They told him they had to stop for gas and they would be there soon.

Thomas didn’t like it. His instinct was right. Sims and Warner had already called Dontavious Marquess Berry, a then 21-year-old with a long arrest record who three weeks earlier he had gotten out of prison. Unaware the $2,000 was in Lithonia, Sims said Thomas represented “an easy lick for you.” Sims and Warner quickly picked up Berry and dropped him at the West End Mall behind the Shell station.

When Sims and Warner arrived at the station, Thomas prepared for trouble. He put his Glock .357 semi-automatic pistol, which he was licensed to carry, into his side pocket. He balked at their request to make the trade-off on a side street and instructed them to unload the rims. In moments, he said he was confronted by Berry’s revolver.

Thomas fired first, hitting Berry in the leg. He then fled toward a Popeye’s restaurant across Oak Street, firing back at the men he feared were pursuing him.

Sims drove Berry to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he left the Honda, according to the police investigation. The car was quickly connected to Warner, who then contacted police and confirmed the robbery attempt.

Sims and Berry were charged with attempted armed robbery. Thomas and Warner, who faces no charges, are the key witnesses against them.

He is the police’

But the situation quickly deteriorated at Popeye’s. Keith Roach, then 31, was sitting in his black Tahoe at an Oak Street stoplight when he heard the gunfire and saw Thomas, gun in hand, running toward the fast food restaurant. The officer got out of the SUV.

Thomas said he heard Roach tell him to halt, but despite the officer’s uniform and pointed gun, he ignored the command and ran up to the clerk at the restaurant’s window.

“I said, ‘Ma’am, I’ve been robbed. Call the police,’ ” Thomas said.

Roach again shouted for Thomas to get down on the ground, and while Thomas this time got on his stomach, he said he kept squirming to watch Roach approach, still not sure he was a lawman. He had noted Roach got out of a Tahoe with tinted windows, not a squad car.

Suddenly he felt Roach’s knee in his back, and when the officer grabbed his wrist to handcuff him, Thomas saw tattoos on the officer’s forearms.

“I’m like, this is not an officer. And that is when the struggle ensued,” Thomas said.

Who fired first is a matter of contention, but Roach’s pistol malfunctioned after one shot and ejected the clip. Thomas emptied his final three shots into Roach, who was able to hit Thomas with his pistol and wrestle him back to the ground.

“I was just fighting for my life, and I was just struggling to get his gun,” Roach said. “An officer’s worst nightmare is to draw a weapon and it doesn’t fire.”

The larger Thomas soon was atop Roach, who was trying to turn the muzzle of Thomas’ gun away from his face.

“I said, ‘Don’t move or I will kill you,’ ” Thomas said.

Donald Melvin, a 64-year-old Decatur contractor, and his wife watched the struggle from their car across the street. He feared that Roach was about to be killed and thought of his own son, a DeKalb County police officer.

A Vietnam War veteran, Melvin stepped on the gas and drove his Pathfinder’s bumper into Thomas’ back. But not even that could stop the struggle. Melvin said he next tried to pull Thomas off the officer.

“He started telling me [Roach] is not a police officer, and I told him he was a police officer … don’t you see that shirt?” Melvin said.

While Melvin’s wife, Paulette, called 911 — the dispatcher placed her on hold — it was Melvin who reacted. He recovered Roach’s pistol, pointed it at Thomas and pulled the trigger.

Misfire. He cocked the gun and pulled the trigger again. Again nothing. He then began pistol-whipping Thomas.

As more people joined in to help, Melvin saw the pistol’s magazine was ejected. He slammed it in tight and chambered a round.

“I told [Thomas] you need to get down this time because I will kill you,” Melvin said.

A small crowd helped Roach get Thomas handcuffed, and the wounded officer lay across him until patrol cars arrived minutes later. Thomas was quickly placed under arrest, even as he explained that he was the victim.

“Once I saw the police cars pull up, I felt safe,” Thomas said.

Sending a message

Thomas, who is out on bail, believes he has a 50-50 chance of staying a free man. For that to happen, the jury will have to believe he made an honest mistake while acting in self-defense.

Howard, the district attorney, said he believes that Thomas shot Roach out of anger, not error. “For whatever reason, his emotions got the best of him and he almost killed a good man,” Howard said.

Melvin said the case is a no-win situation. He said letting Thomas walk free would send the message to thugs that they can escape prison if they shoot a cop. He understands Thomas had a clean record and was on the verge of starting a second profession when his world turned upside down.

“It is a hard case for that young man, and I hate to see it be that way,” Melvin said. “You can’t say how scared he was or why he couldn’t understand the guy was a police officer. But if he doesn’t go to jail, it will look like he can shoot a police officer and get away with it.”

Shooting suspect thought cop was criminal  |

Shot Show 2012

The beginning of this years 2012 Shot Show is just about to be underway. Last year was one of the most successful years in the gun industry. Many manufactures have worked all year building and preparing their new products for 2012’s show of the year. Gun stores around the country have been waiting months for this very important date.  In 2011 manufactures impressed the gun industry with some of the most compact pocket pistols.


Ruger came out with the Ruger LC9, Beretta stunned us with the Nano, and the elite Kimber surprised us with the Solo. These manufactures have put tireless hours and money into these pistols and they have proven to be well worth it. These pistols are almost all allocated by gun distributors and are very hard to find sitting on the shelf in stock. Gun dealers are thriving with customers because of 2011. Gun stores thrive on the manufactures to provide them with nothing but the best.



This year you will see LaserMax showing off their brand new Centerfire lasers. They teamed up with Ruger to bring you a all-in-one package. It’s companies like this that make the industry what it is today. A six billion dollar one.

“I hope everyone has a wonderful time and lets us know about their experiences. Please feel free to comment and let us know what you seen and what is going on your wish list.

Leader of Park Service retirees laments federal law for loaded guns in parks


From The Washington Post:


SEATTLE — The fatal shooting of a Park Service ranger at Mount Rainier National Park has renewed debate about a nearly two-year-old federal law that allows loaded weapons in national parks.The outgoing chairman of a national organization of Park Service retirees said that Congress should be regretting its decision. The law let licensed gun owners bring firearms into national parks and wildlife refuges as long as they are allowed by state law. Guns are allowed in all but about 20 of the park service’s 392 locations, from Yellowstone to Yosemite.

Before 2010, firearms at Mount Rainier were required to be temporarily inoperable or put away so they weren’t easily accessible.Sunday’s fatal shooting of a Park Service ranger Margaret Anderson could have been prevented, said Bill Wade, a former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park, just outside Washington, D.C., who started his career as a professional ranger at Mount Rainier.

“The many congressmen and senators that voted for the legislation that allowed loaded weapons to be brought into the parks ought to be feeling pretty bad right now,” said Wade, whose term as chairman of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees ended Dec. 31.

He hopes Congress will reconsider the law that took effect in February 2010, but doubts that will happen in today’s political climate.

A ban on guns in national parks was instituted during the Reagan administration. President George W. Bush sought to rescind the ban near the end of his administration and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence sued and won an injunction to stop that from happening, said Dennis Henigan, acting president of Brady Campaign.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., responded with legislation that went into effect in 2010.

Calls and emails to Coburn and the National Rifle Association requesting comment were not immediately returned on Monday.

In a statement about the law after it went into effect, the NRA said media fears of gun violence in parks were unlikely to be realized.

“The new law affects firearms possession, not use,” the statement from the lobbying arm emphasized. The organization pushed for the law change saying people have a right to defend themselves against park animals and other people.

Henigan noted if park rangers had seen the rifle before it was used to shoot Anderson they would not have been able to take it away from him.

“You can always hope that the Congress will wake up and recognize that its first responsibility is to protect innocent lives,” he said.

A volunteer ranger at Mount Rainier told The News Tribune he didn’t think the law change, which he opposed, had any effect on this week’s shooting.

“This is murder,” said George Coulbourne, who also is a hunting safety instructor and a veteran of 60 years of hunting. “When you have someone who would spontaneously kill someone, a prohibition of guns in the park wouldn’t stop someone like that.”


Shot Show 2012

2012 Shot Show


We are finally only one month away from the 2012 SHOT SHOW. The important dates for this event is:

January 17-20th
Sands Expo Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nevada

With the 2011 SHOT SHOW being a record breaking trade show, we can only imagine the turnout that 2012 is going to bring us. Every year thousands of people across the country come to see what new products are coming out for shooting enthusiasts. The SHOT SHOW is know to be one of the largest trade shows for gun store owners. This is the time of the year that weapon manufactures go above and beyond to win the business of retail gun stores. Do not miss your chance to see what the manufactures have been working on all year!


Looking to book your stay? Click here to make reservations


With gun sales on the rise for the past 16 months, this could be one of the best years for the SHOT SHOW. The shooting industry is already bringing in just over 4 billion dollars to the U.S. Economy, and continues to grow. Most gun store owners believe that 2012 just might be the biggest year the industry will see. With the election right around the corner and more liberals pushing for more gun control, gun sales are not going to start decreasing anytime soon.


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