The concealed carry permit holder was trying to intervene in a domestic dispute, trying to disarm the fleeing shooter, trying to do the job ordinarily reserved for police.
Instead, he was killed.
Just before noon on Monday, 35-year-old T.J. Antell, who had served in the Marines, watched the unfolding of a domestic dispute between a man and a woman outside a Walgreens in Arlington, Texas, authorities said. The man, a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, allegedly fired a gun twice, one bullet burying into the ground and another striking the woman. He then climbed into his truck in the parking lot and attempted to leave when Antell tried to stop him.
Antell, a father of three and CrossFit gym owner, retreated to his vehicle, grabbed his own gun, and approached the shooter, Arlington police said.
Instead of abiding by Antell’s commands to stop, police said the shooter climbed out of his truck and fired his gun again.
The shot hit Antell in the head, reported the Dallas Morning News. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
His wife, Crystal Antell, saw it all, according to reports.
Within hours, the shooter had turned himself in to authorities.
Ricci Bradden, 22, faces a murder charge and is being held on $500,000 bond, Arlington police said. According to his arrest affidavit, Bradden was driving away from the scene when he called and confessed to several Army supervisors at Fort Hood that he had slapped the gun out of Antell’s hand and shot him, reported TV station Fox 4 News.
Then Bradden called his father, who advised his son to pull over and wait for him, Fox reported. Police said the two then drove to a Texas Department of Public Safety station in Hill County where the 22-year-old turned himself in.
The initial altercation that turned the morning bloody began as a spat between Bradden and his wife, Quinisha Johnson, an employee at the Walgreens, reported the Dallas Morning News. The couple was arguing outside the store when Bradden pulled out his gun and fired it twice at his wife’s feet, striking her once in the ankle, according to reports.
Johnson told police she fled inside, shouting for help, reported the Dallas Morning News.
She was recovering at a local hospital Monday with injuries that were not considered to be life-threatening, police said.
As word of the altercation spread throughout Arlington, family and friends gathered at CrossFit Abattoir, the gym T.J. Antell owned with his wife, Crystal.
“He went into protective mode. He’s a father, he’s protective by nature,” Antell’s pastor, Marc Lowrance, told reporters Monday. “And he thought he could help everyone involved, and tragically it went a different way.”
Antell, Lowrance said, “sacrificed himself for this family, much the way he sacrificed himself for strangers today.”
Police spent most of the day interviewing witnesses. When asked if Antell should have intervened, Arlington police spokesman Christopher Cook told the Dallas Morning News there’s no clear cut answer.
“Without having all the details, it would be inappropriate for me to speculate,” he said.
In an interview with TV station NBC 5, Cook offered this advice: “Anytime you can be the best witness you can be, we always recommend that.”
As the number of states allowing people to carry guns has increased, reports of injuries and deaths have also risen.
Just last week, a churchgoer in Pennsylvania — in possession of a concealed carry permit and some sort of badge to prove it — intervened in an already settled spat between congregation members over reserved church seating. The man, Mark Storms, approached Robert Braxton, showed him a gun on his belt and a gold badge, then asked him to leave, reported the Associated Press. Braxton threw a punch, then Storms fired two shots, killing the man.
Storms was charged with voluntary manslaughter, the AP reported.
Last fall, a Detroit woman with a concealed carry permit fired at a fleeing shoplifter outside a Home Depot. She was later sentenced to 18 months of probation and stripped of her concealed gun permit. She told a TV station that she “will never help anybody again.”
Around that same time, a customer at a Southside Chicago bodega fired at a robbery suspect wearing a mask and brandishing what looked like a real gun. It wasn’t, but the shots fired by the customer, a concealed carry permit holder, killed the robbery suspect. Soon after, police announced that charges against the customer were unlikely.
On Monday, a new Tennessee law was passed allowing full-time employees at the state’s public colleges and universities to carry handguns on campus.
Since 2007, the number of Americans holding concealed carry permits has nearly tripled, rising from 4.6 million to 12.8 million in 2015.
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