Man shoots at shoplifting suspects outside Arrowhead Towne Center

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A man who opened fire at two shoplifting suspects outside of the Sears at Arrowhead Towne Center told 3TV he pulled out his gun to protect himself, his wife and a loss-prevention officer.

"They chose to point the gun at me; (they) messed with the wrong Marine," Mervin Brewer said.

The 61-year-old was parked outside of the store, waiting for his wife, when he saw the two suspects, a man and a woman, trying to exit the store.

"The security guard came to confront them. The guy pulled out a gun and pointed a gun at him, and my wife was standing there. For her well-being as well as the safety of the security kid, I had my gun; I told him to 'freeze.' She turned, pointed the gun, and I shot," Brewer said as he described the chain of events.

Police say the unarmed loss-prevention officer had followed the two alleged shoplifters out of the Sears store at which point the woman allegedly pulled a handgun out of her backpack and pointed it at the officer.

It was initially reported that the woman fired shots. However, police later determined the 61-year-old man in the parking lot shot at the suspects.

It isn't clear if either suspect was hit. They fled on a black motorcycle.

Police located what they believe is the suspects' motorcycle at an apartment complex across the street from Sears, but the suspects have not been found. O'Neill said the motorcycle is not registered to that location, but it is too early to determine if it belongs to a resident or if it was abandoned.

The suspects were described as a white male with a "scruffy" beard wearing a black T-shirt and black baseball cap, and a white female wearing a blue tank top underneath a black hooded sweatshirt and carrying a blue-and-gray backpack.

It is unknown if Brewer will face any charges, but O'Neill said it is justifiable to use force to protect someone else.

"It was self-defense for the safety of my wife and the security guard," Brewer said. "Without a doubt, I was justified."

O'Neill said there was never any closure of the mall or the Sears store other than in the immediate vicinity of the incident. No patrons or employees of the mall were injured or struck by gunfire.

Arrowhead Towne Center is located just northwest of 75th Avenue and Bell Road. Sears is an anchor store there. It's located on the northwest side of the mall, next to the AMC Theatres.