Two teens attempted to rob a couple outside of a Tampa restaurant Friday night, but both ended up in police custody after the male victim, who is a concealed weapons permit holder, turned the tables on the suspects.
As part of an evening out, the couple had just enjoyed dinner at a Shells restaurant and were walking to their vehicle in the parking lot when they were approached by the teens, who were later identified by police as Reginald Smith and Jeremiah Walker. Smith was armed with a gun. Tampa Police Lt. Michael Stout told a local Fox affiliate that the teens were hiding in the bushes and rushed the couple while Smith aimed the gun at them.
The suspects demanded cash and cell phones and the couple complied. But when the woman attempted to flee back toward the restaurant, Smith pointed the gun directly at her. At that point, fearing for the safety of the woman, the male victim reached into his pocket, pulled out his own pistol and shot Smith in the leg.
Smith and Walker attempted to flee from the scene, dropping the cash, phones and gun along the way, and while Walker was able to get away, Smith could not run.
When police arrived a short time later, Smith was taken into custody and transferred to a local hospital to receive treatment for the non-life threatening gunshot wound.
The female victim was also treated for minor injuries she sustained during the altercation.
According to a report by WTSP, Walker turned himself in about half an hour after Smith was in custody.
Smith and Walker, who are both 17 years old, have had several run-ins with law enforcement in the past and are now facing charges for armed robbery, a first-degree felony.
Authorities discovered that the gun carried by Smith was fake, a replica with the orange tip removed.
While in most states no distinction is made between real and fake guns when they are used in the commission of a felony since both can be used to incite fear in the victims, a 2011 Florida court case ruled that a toy gun does not meet the legal requirements for a weapon, which is defined by an object which may be used to inflict great bodily harm or death.
As a result of the ruling, Stafford Hamilton, who was facing charges for armed robbery, was convicted of a lesser offense – robbery. An exception to the law is made when the toy gun is used to strike the victim or otherwise used in a manner to inflict bodily harm.