MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - It's something you don't usually worry about when visiting your local Walmart. You go in, get what you need and leave.
This routine was drastically different for customers who visited the Merritt Island Walmart on Sunday. Shoppers were instead greeted with gunfire, an evacuation. As shoppers evacuated the store, they began to realize what had just happened.
According to News 6 partner Florida Today, the shooting happened about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, inside the grocery section of the store, near the entrance as shoppers were coming and going.
Authorities say store manager Rashad Gibson, 27, was in the store, retrieved a gun and fatally shot Shawn Robbins during a confrontation over a woman.
Investigators are looking into reports saying that Robbins, described as unemployed, may have walked throughout the store looking for Gibson before the confrontation. The two eventually found each other in the grocery section of the store.
It is unclear from officials if Robbins was armed with a weapon at the time the two men met, or if Gibson had a permit to carry the handgun used during the shooting.
It's also unclear what Walmart's policy is regarding employees bringing weapons to the workplace. Many companies have policies and guidelines that restrict firearms from their property.
“There’s always going to be some lawyer who will argue some theory of liability, but that doesn’t mean the claim has merit,” said trial attorney Mark Eiglarish, who has argued thousands of cases involving liability.
“In these shootings, as we learned in so many of these cases, whether it’s actually self-defense hinges on a number of details, that’s the first question, whether he was acting within the confines of the law…If he reason fears great bodily harm, then self-defense is an argument,” Eiglarish said.
The day following the shooting, several family members gathered at the home where Robbins lived on Highland Court.
A woman got out of a vehicle in the driveway and asked for privacy when reporters began to approach her. Robbins' sister called him a "good man" who loved his family.
“(Gibson), didn’t have to shoot him like he did,” said Surena Robbins told Florida Today during a phone call.
Neither of the men involved are said to have any history of violent crime or other significant criminal history in Brevard County, according to court records.
The most important question is whether Gibson had a permit to carry a weapon and was he in fear of his life when he fired his weapon?
Florida laws on self-defense cover a broad ground, from cases involving use of force by police and people defending themselves inside their home.
Now more than 72 hours after the shooting, authorities have not filed any charges in the investigation and police continue to look into Walmart's store manager's use of a gun to shoot a man during a confrontation over a woman that both men knew.
The Brevard County state attorney's office is continuing to review the findings of the sheriff's investigation. Prosecutors plan to watch the video surveillance from the store, listen to the 911 calls, go over eyewitness statements and review the personal histories of both Gibson and Robbins.
Prosecutors will then weigh the motivations of both men to determine whether charges can be brought. They will then ask themselves should they be brought? Will a jury see things the same way?
As the case moves forward, many questions remain: Was it self-defense? Could Walmart face any liability? So far, representatives of the global retailer are not commenting.
The sheriff’s investigation is still ongoing.
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