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Jogger who shot attacker says he felt life was in danger

Jogger who shot attacker says he felt life was in danger
By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Star
Wednesday, 31 May 2000

The jogger who fended off two would-be robbers by shooting one of them says he was not physically injured in the attack but did feel his life was in danger.

And he's not even sure how to feel after pointing a handgun at another person and pulling the trigger.

"I'm surviving," said the man, whose name is not being used by the Arizona Daily Star at his request.

The shooting happened Sunday about 9:30 p.m. near East Speedway and Wilmot Road. The 31-year-old Tucson man was jogging on East Bellevue Street when two men approached him from behind and attacked him, said Sgt. Marco Borboa, Tucson Police spokesman.

The man said one of his attackers pulled out a 5-inch folding hunter's knife and made a threat. He said that's when he pulled out his 9 mm, semi-automatic handgun and fired.

Police later identified the knife-wielding attacker as Ramon Soto, 32. He remained in fair condition last night at Tucson Medical Center. The bullet struck him on the left side of his chest and exited his back.

Eduardo Reyna, 24, the other man police say was involved in the attack, remained overnight at the Pima County Jail on a $5,000 bond on charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Police were called to the shooting by two motorists driving by the scene. The jogger held the two men at gunpoint until police arrived.

Based on the information police have gathered so far, the jogger did nothing illegal, Borboa said. Police are continuing their investigation.

"At some point in their lives, people get involved in a violent situation. I figured it was bound to happen at some point," the jogger said. "That's why I got a (gun) permit."

The man, who lives on the East Side, said he was left stunned after the shooting. He said he does not agree with people who might say he should not have have been out after dark.

"The criminals don't set their clock to any set time," he said.

Standing in his front door last night, the man said he thinks he acted within the confines of the law. He also said he wishes it had never happened in the first place.

Lt. Michael Gillooly, a Tucson Police patrol commander on the East Side, said it is common to see people walking and jogging late at night during the summer months. Increasing temperatures force people to exercise either early in the morning or late at night.

"I see people in every area doing it. Throughout this section of the city, we see people and are aware of people exercising at night during the summer hours," Gillooly said.

The jogger was justified in his actions, said Todd Rathner, a Tucson resident and national board member of the National Rifle Association. Although Rathner said he does not know specifics about the shooting, he said the law was written to protect citizens in those kinds of situations.

"This proves the Arizona (concealed weapons) law works," Rathner said. "(The jogger) was justified in using deadly physical force. He used deadly force to stop the attack and he called the police after the fact."

Under Arizona law, a person with a concealed weapons permit can use deadly force if he feels his life or the life of another person is threatened, Rathner said.

But the use of deadly force is a "double-edged sword," said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

"Sometimes, the deadly force works in your favor and sometimes, it works against you," Dupnik said. "In this case, it apparently worked out pretty well."

Dupnik said carrying a concealed weapon is a personal choice. People who choose to get a permit should use "the best weapons, the best training and the best judgment."

More than 120,000 Arizona residents have applied for a concealed weapons permit since 1994, the first year the law went into effect, said Sgt. Bill Whalen, supervisor for the Arizona Department of Public Safety's concealed weapons permit unit.

About 60,000 of those applicants now have active permits, Whalen said. The number of residents applying for the permits has decreased.

In the first few months permit applications were available, DPS received more than 15,000 applications a month. Now, the average is about 1,800.

Whalen said there is no reliable way to keep track of where guns are used to defend individuals or to prevent a crime. If a concealed weapons permit owner is arrested for a crime, DPS is automatically notified.

Annually, about 1 percent of active permit holders are charged with a crime, Whalen said.

First-time permit applicants must complete a 16-hour training course within six months of submitting an application, submit their fingerprints to DPS and pay a $50 processing fee. Permit holders must complete a four-hour refresher course to renew their permit.

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