Customers fire shots at shoplifter running from Prattville Belk

Published: Jun. 5, 2013 at 7:28 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2013 at 7:28 PM CDT
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PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Two private citizens in Prattville took action against a crime they saw committed on Wednesday afternoon - now police are searching for the suspect.

Prattville authorities say two customers followed an alleged shoplifter outside of the Prattville Belk location. When the suspect attempted to flee, police say the private citizens fired shots into the suspect's vehicle.

The two citizens were questioned briefly by police before being released.

A review of Alabama Criminal Code states in section 13A-3-27 (g) that a private person acting on his own account is justified in using physical force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested person whom he reasonably believes has committed a felony and who in fact has committed that felony, but he is justified in using deadly physical force for the purpose only when he reasonably believes it necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.

Police don't believe that the customers were justified - 57-year-old Georgia resident Donald Estes is being charged with reckless endangerment - a class c misdemeanor.

Estes fired one shot while aiming at the tires of the shoplifting suspect's car - police say that shot was not in self defense.

At this time, the Prattville Police Department is still searching for the alleged shoplifter.

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