More than a year before his arrest on suspicion of shooting a shoplifter, a Colorado Springs liquor store owner was shot in the gut when he grabbed a robber’s gun rather than submit to a stickup, police said this week.
The Gazette has previously reported that Chang Ho Yi, 58, was wounded during a June 18, 2009 armed robbery.
New details were released Thursday at the newspaper’s request.
According to police, Yi was working at Austin Bluffs Plaza Liquor, the store his attorney, Allen C. Gasper, said Yi has operated for 16 years, when a masked man came in brandishing a gun, just before midnight.
Rather than cooperate with the robber’s demand that he open the cash register, Yi grabbed the assailant’s weapon and initiated a struggle in which three shots were fired, one of which hit Yi in the abdomen.
As the robber took off running through the exit, Yi retrieved a personal weapon he kept in the store, ran into the parking lot, and fired twice, according to the lead investigator, Colorado Springs police detective Erik K. Anderson.
“There was never any indication that the suspect was hit by the
gunfire,” Anderson said in an e-mail.
Police checked hospitals and urgent care centers, but never got word of a gunshot victim matching the robber’s description. Yi, who cooperated fully, told police he wouldn’t be able to recognize his attacker because a white mask covered his face, Anderson said.
A potential lead fizzled when two women came in the store at a later date and told Yi they thought they knew who shot him.
The women weren’t willing to leave their names or phone numbers, and police were unable to follow up on their claims, Anderson said.
“At this point, the case has gone cold,” the detective said.
Prosecutors on Wednesday dropped their case against Yi in an October 2010 incident in which he had been accused of chasing a shoplifter to his getaway car and firing once into the vehicle, wounding the shoplifter in the face and a passenger in the leg.
A grand jury heard evidence during a two-day investigation but declined to return an indictment, effectively ending the prosecution.
Police said Yi was without justification in shooting, and that the shoplifter’s getaway car was pulling away during the attack.
Gasper disputed that account, saying that Yi was hit in the head at some point during the encounter and was only protecting himself.
Legal Affairs reporter