LODI, CA May 31 2012 - A theft, a shooting, an arrest and a military AWOL investigation are elements in a single incident that happened Tuesday night at a Lodi liquor store.
According to Lodi Police, a 21-year-old man tried to steal a $12 case of Bud Light Platinum from Tokay Liquors on east Lockford around 9:45 p.m. The owner of the store, Gurminder Parmar, fired his Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun at the man; hitting him in the shoulder.
Lodi police arrested Parmar for assault with a deadly weapon, citing the unarmed shoplifter didn’t threaten Parmar and was fleeing the store when he was shot from behind.
“We don’t know exactly what happened last night, but he tried to protect himself,” Parmar’s friend Sukhjit Singh said. “He said at the door he saw him pulling something from his pocket.”
Singh said Parmar’s store was robbed several times before in the 10 years Tokay Liquors had been in operation. Last year, Parmar bought a handgun for protection.
“Couple months back they had robberies. They tried to rob him at gun point,” Singh said. “So he’s scared and bought the gun.”
Lodi police confiscated the store’s surveillance video. Parmar is being held in the Lodi jail.
Police caught up with the robbery suspect carrying the beer and bleeding from his shoulder on North Church Street, not far from his apartment.
The robbery suspect, Christopher Driggers, said he was an army veteran who served in Afghanistan last year. He said during his entire service in Afghanistan, he was never once fired upon. His first encounter with a bullet was Tuesday night for what he said was a stupid prank.
“I was trying to do a beer run,” Driggers said. “Go inside a store, grab beer and run out. I got half way out when I got shot in the back. I had the money. I don’t know why I did it.”
Driggers said police confiscated the beer and he went to Dameron Hospital for his shoulder wound, which was an entrance and exit bullet hole wound to his upper right shoulder.
Driggers said he feels badly that Parmar got arrested, but doesn’t think he deserved to be shot.
“He had to do what he had to do, but I was shoplifting, not threatening him,” Driggers said. “And he shot me in the back.”
After the interview with Driggers, Lodi police Cpl. Dale Eubanks said Driggers is classified AWOL by the U.S. Army and is facing military justice.