Dec 082009
 

Jeweller who shot robber wants more gun rights

Dennis Galloway saysright to self-defence eroded in Canada, RCMP disagree [but we sure as hell don’t. -Ed.]

Port Alberni jeweller Dennis Galloway is taking a public stand in support of increased gun rights after he shot an alleged robber in his store.
Port Alberni jeweller Dennis Galloway is taking a public stand in support of increased gun rights after he shot an alleged robber in his store. (CBC photo)

A jeweller from Port Alberni, B.C., who shot an armed robber five times is taking a public stand for stronger rights to bear arms in Canada.

“The police can’t control the crime anymore,” Dennis Galloway said. “The government isn’t controlling it anymore. We are relying on the politicians and the RCMP to take care of us — and we should all be responsible for our own safety and security.”

Galloway was speaking out after staying silent for months about how he opened fire one afternoon last fall on the masked robber and accomplice trying to rob his store.“I had my eye on them before they even opened the door,” Galloway said in an interview. “And I could see gloves on their hands and sunglasses and hats. They took one, two steps in the door — and boom — out comes their gun.

“Do you just lie down and let the criminals run the country?”
— Dennis Galloway, jewelry store owner

“I turned, went into my safe, got my firearm out of storage and loaded it.”

Galloway has been a target shooter for a decade. He said he keeps several legally registered guns in the vault in Dievert’s Jewellers, the store he owns with his wife, Sharon. They were alone in the store when the alleged robbers arrived in the late afternoon of Oct. 22, 2008.

Surveillance video shows that while Galloway quickly slipped into his open vault to get his weapon, one of the masked men pointed a large handgun at Sharon’s head. The man was moving toward the vault area when the jeweller came out and began firing his 9-mm Beretta handgun.

‘No time to contemplate’

“I see the guy moving towards me with a gun and starting to lift the gun up and I started to see the smashing — like he was hitting the [jewelry] case with the gun,” he said. “Do I just roll over and let them do whatever they want? Possibly kill us?

Surveillance video from Dievert's Jewellers shows a masked man pointing a gun at Sharon Galloway's face.
Surveillance video from Dievert’s Jewellers shows a masked man pointing a gun at Sharon Galloway’s face. (CBC)

“There was no time to contemplate on what was morally right and wrong. It happened so fast. Once I started shooting, he turned and he ran.”

Galloway said he kept firing until the magazine in his gun was empty. Surveillance video shows accused robber James Gumbleton collapsed in the store entranceway. His alleged accomplice got away. Gumbleton had been shot five times in the shoulder and torso.

“He hit the floor,” Galloway said. “I went back into the safe, reloaded my firearm. I was still kind of worried. I didn’t want him to escape or turn around and shoot me.”

Photographs from the scene show bullets also went through the glass in the storefront. Galloway trained his gun on Gumbleton, while his wife called 911.

Gumbleton, who did not fire his gun, was taken to hospital, where he spent several months in a coma. The 46-year old from Burnaby with a record of drug-related convictions is now paralyzed from the chest down. The RCMP are proceeding with robbery charges, now that he is well enough to attend court.

Accused robber James Gumbleton is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot five times.
Accused robber James Gumbleton is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot five times. (Courtesy Alberni Valley News)

RCMP recommended Galloway be charged as well — with unsafe storage and careless use of a firearm. The Crown disagreed.

Canadian law says guns must be registered and stored, unloaded and safely. Citizens are allowed to fire their guns in self-defence but only with as much force as necessary.

“It’s difficult that I did this to another human being,” Galloway said. “I don’t take any pride in it. It’s an unfortunate incident for everyone.”

“I wish it had never come to this. The violence is escalating. In Canada, we don’t want that, but it’s here. And that’s scary. What do you do? Do you just lie down and let the criminals run the country?”

Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik told CBC News he doesn’t think Galloway should have opened fire the way he did.

“[The accused robber] was leaving the building, and he got shot,” Omilusik said. “Is that ‘as much force as is necessary?’

“It’s like a bank robbery. Give them the money. Give them what they are after. If you give them what they are after, nine times out of 10 they will take what they are after and they will leave.”

Shopkeeper honoured

Last month, Galloway was given a bravery award by the Canadian Association for Self Defence, a group started two years ago by Quebec resident Norman Lapierre. It boasts 2,500 members, including police officers and lawyers. Its mandate is to lobby for the legal right to carry concealed, loaded handguns, as long as the owners get proper training.

When a robbery happens, Galloway said, there usually isn’t time to retrieve a gun from storage and load it, as the law now requires.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik does not condone Galloway taking the law into his own hands.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Lee Omilusik does not condone Galloway taking the law into his own hands. (CBC)

“Canadians are defenceless. And it’s the law.”

Omilusik said this is a dangerous sentiment, which he does not support.

“In this case, we had several shots fired,” he said. “They went through a window. Who’s to say a child might not have been walking through that window? You are going to get a lot of innocent people shot if you have everybody armed.”

Port Alberni schoolteacher Ellen Chambers was across the street when Galloway fired the shots. She just as easily could have been in the line of fire.

Bullet holes through front door

“I am terrified,” Chambers said. “We can see clearly evidence that there are bullet holes through the front door and public safety was jeopardized. Potentially, my public safety.”

Chambers said she wanted to speak out because, so far, most public sentiment in Port Alberni has supported Galloway’s actions. Chambers thinks he should be charged.

Schoolteacher Ellen Chambers was across the street when the shooting happened and believes Galloway should be facing charges.
Schoolteacher Ellen Chambers was across the street when the shooting happened and believes Galloway should be facing charges. (CBC)

“It shouldn’t be decided in the court of public opinion, this whole thing,” she said. “He still has a gun. My opinion is that’s unsafe for him to still have that gun.”

She agrees with Galloway on one point, however: the RCMP and the justice system in Canada are ineffective.

“Our law enforcement services are incompetent,” she said.

Galloway’s sentiments about the system stem partly from a robbery at his store last spring. A man walked in, asked to see a $10,000 ring, then ran out with it. When the RCMP didn’t appear interested in pursuing it, Galloway posted the surveillance video on the internet.

“It pretty much went nowhere,” Galloway said. “He just got away with it. Nothing was being done and I felt helpless.”

The man shown on the tape was eventually caught, but not until after he had committed other robberies, Galloway said. The ring was never recovered, though, and Galloway’s insurance did not cover the loss. Galloway said the RCMP have also still not caught the accomplice from the latest robbery, more than a year later.

Asked to respond to the suggestion police aren’t doing enough to protect people, Omilusik responded: “We have to do things properly — and that takes time. It’s not like a CSI movie, where you see five minutes later the guy is arrested and he’s doing time.

“We have to work under the system that is in existence and the laws that are in existence. If you are not happy with the court system, protest to your politicians. Don’t take the law into your own hands.”

The Canadian Association of Self Defence presented a bravery award to Dennis Galloway in November.
The Canadian Association of Self Defence presented a bravery award to Dennis Galloway in November. (CBC)

Galloway and Chambers believe illegal drugs are at the root of the crime problem in their community. Before his recent arrest, accused robber Gumbleton told the Alberni Valley News he was hooked on cocaine at the time and was ordered to do the robbery by his drug dealer.

Galloway said the RCMP should be going after the dealer.

“I feel for other jewellers, other businesses, that there’s organized drug gangs, sending people out — these drug-addicted people — with guns into stores, businesses, houses. And they are being ordered to commit this crime.”

Omilusik said the force is working on the problem.

“And time is on our side. Our conviction rate is going up and our crime rates are going down.”

Original story and more available on the CBC website.

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