comScore

Did a St. Paul Man Have the Right to Chase Down and Shoot Purported Robbers?

Mysterious case of vigilante justice in St. Paul raises a lot of questions

Mysterious case of vigilante justice in St. Paul raises a lot of questions

On March 30 around 5:30 p.m., a man says two men pulled out guns near the corner of Como and Pennsylvania Avenues in St. Paul's North End and tried to rob him.

The man, who St. Paul police say had a permit to carry a gun, thwarted the robbery and exchanged gunfire with the would-be robbers. When the bad guys bolted, the victim got in his car, chased them for more than a mile, then shot one of them in the foot during a second gun fight.

See also: St. Paul Man Pulls Gun and Chases Would-Be Robbers, Shooting One in Foot

The man who got shot, Joseph Barre, turned up at Regions Hospital later that night and had to undergo surgery. Barre, 29, hasn't been charged yet, but St. Paul police spokesperson Paul Paulos says they are considering presenting aggravated assault and attempted robbery charges to the Ramsey County Attorney.

The case raises a ton of questions. Did the potential robbery victim have the right to chase the perpetrators and get into a second gun fight? Was the man actually going to get robbed? Did he know his attackers? Did the vigilante attempt to contact the police during the episode?

So far, St. Paul police remain tight-lipped.

"It's an interesting story and a very complicated case," says Paulos. "Investigators are currently working with multiple crime scenes, trying to figure out who did what, and why?"

Brock Hunter is an criminal defense attorney who deals a lot with gun charges.

"If [the potential robbers] turn and leave the situation and you're no longer in imminent danger, your right of self-defense goes away," he says. "But if you've had a crime committed against you, I don't think there's any law against following the suspects to keep their location nailed down while you're attempting to contact the police."

"And if at some point in that process these [robbers] turn and once again pose an imminent threat to him by raising their guns, at that point he has a renewed right of self-defense."

Hunter added that under no circumstance does the law allow anyone to go full vigilante and chase down the perpetrators with the intent of gunning them down.

Send news tips to Ben Johnson.