A common argument from pro-gun advocates in response to mass shootings in public places is that the presence of a “good guy with a gun,” such as an armed security guard, will even the odds and can potentially end a mass shooting before it even begins.
Unfortunately, when an armed security guard at a bar in a suburb south of Chicago used his handgun to stop a potential mass shooting, he was mistakenly confused as the suspect and shot dead by the first police officers to respond to the shooting.
Shootout at a bar
WGN9 reported that security was compelled to kick out a group of unruly drunken men from Manny’s Blue Room Bar around 4 am on Sunday, only to have at least one of those men return to the bar moments later with a gun and open fire.
A 26-year-old armed security guard named Jemel Roberson returned fire and managed to apprehend the suspected shooter outside the bar, holding him at gunpoint on the ground with a knee on his back until the police could arrive.
Sadly, the first officer to respond thought that Roberson was actually the suspected shooter and immediately opened fire on the security guard, striking and killing him.
“(Roberson) had somebody on the ground with his knee in back, with his gun in his back like, ‘Don’t move,'” described witness Adam Harris. Harris added that when the police arrived, “Everybody was screaming out, ‘Security!’ He was a security guard. And they still did their job, and saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.”
In addition to Roberson, four other individuals suffered gunshot wounds in the incident — including the suspected shooter — though none of those wounds were believed to be life-threatening.
Law enforcement response
There has been little information released by law enforcement officials regarding the incident just yet, though the Cook County Sheriff’s Office noted that Roberson possessed a state-issued Firearms Owner ID card, but not a concealed carry permit. The Midlothian Police Department released a statement acknowledging that two of their officers were first on the scene and one had opened fire on the security guard.
“A Midlothian officer encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an officer-involved shooting,” explained MPD Chief Daniel Delaney. “The subject the officer shot was later pronounced deceased at an area hospital.”
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has taken the lead in investigating the initial shooting at the bar prior to the arrival of police officers while the State Police Public Integrity Task Force has opened an investigation into the officer-involved shooting portion of the incident.
This is nothing short of a tragic case of mistaken identity, likely a case of “shoot first and ask question later” and potentially even one of racial bias, though details remain to be sorted out. Making matters a bit worse is that Roberson was indeed the quintessential “good guy with a gun,” an upstanding and musically-talented citizen active in several local churches who planned to become a police officer himself in the future.
Hopefully, the investigations into this officer-involved shooting will be conducted quickly. If it is determined that the responding officers were at fault in the fatal shooting, they should be held accountable for their actions.