08:48 PM CDT on Thursday, October 4, 2007
By TANYA EISERER / The Dallas Morning News
A security guard used an assault rifle to kill two robbery suspects at a Red Bird strip mall late Wednesday, police said.
Police say the guard grabbed his weapon when one of the men pointed a handgun at him.
Brandon Stewart Sergio Vann, the 19-year-old gun-wielding assailant, died at the scene late Wednesday. Detavias Davis, 17, who was driving the getaway car, died at a hospital.
A third suspect, Brandon Stewart, 18, was being held in the Dallas County Jail on a charge of aggravated robbery.
Police are looking into whether the trio may have been involved in other robberies.
Dedrick Howard, the 20-year-old security guard, declined to comment. His employer did not return a call seeking comment.
The incident happened about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of a shopping center in the 2200 block of West Red Bird Lane.
Mr. Howard, a licensed security guard, told police that he was on duty, sitting in his vehicle and working on a laptop when he noticed a white Mitsubishi circling the parking lot.
The car parked two spaces away from him, police said. Two men, identified as Mr. Vann and Mr. Stewart, got out and ran toward Mr. Howard's car, police said.
"One kid asked him, 'Do you have change for a $20?' " said police Sgt. Ray Beaudreault, a homicide supervisor. "Of course, he didn't. The other kid pulled a gun and told him to get out of the car."
As Mr. Howard got out of the car, he grabbed an assault rifle from the passenger seat and fired several rounds. Mr. Vann was hit, and Mr. Stewart ran.
The getaway car's driver, identified as Mr. Davis, restarted the car, police said. Thinking the driver might have a weapon, Mr. Howard then shot at the car, striking Mr. Davis, police said.
As Mr. Davis fled, fatally wounded, he lost control of his car and it struck another vehicle, authorities said.
Police think Mr. Vann, who had the gun, tried to fire it at Mr. Howard because police found a round in the gun's chamber and two live rounds on the ground, Sgt. Beaudreault said.
"I think that's probably what saved the security guard's life, because he had time to fire his weapon before Sergio did," Sgt. Beaudreault said. "He didn't know how to operate the weapon."
Sgt. Beaudreault said he believes that, typically, armed security guards carry handguns and not assault rifles. "It's not your standard weapon," he said.
Mr. Howard fired 11 rounds from the assault rifle, police said.
Police say Mr. Stewart was arrested when he returned about 15 minutes later to retrieve his cellphone and jacket from the car. Mr. Stewart told detectives that he and his accomplices planned to rob Mr. Howard of his laptop, a police report said.
"Kids at that age need to be in school, getting a good education," said Sgt. Beaudreault. "Why they're out there robbing a security guard is beyond me. I don't really know what to make of it."
After the shooting, Mr. Vann's mother called and spoke with a detective. She told police that her son worked at Wal-Mart and that Wednesday was his day off.
"She said he was a good kid," Sgt. Beaudreault said.
Sgt. Beaudreault said the deaths of the two suspected robbers will be referred to a grand jury. But it is unlikely that a grand jury will indict Mr. Howard because state law allows a person to use deadly force to prevent being robbed.
State law also does not require that someone retreat before using deadly force to defend themselves in their homes, cars or places of business.