A tragic price

Shooting victim's family misguided in stand-your-ground incident

  • Follow Editorials

A 19-year-old walks into a Waffle House at 1 a.m., draws a gun and commands patrons to the floor while his 29-year-old accomplice stands by menacingly.

A 23-year-old diner sitting at the counter refuses to comply. He draws a legally concealed pistol and shoots the teen, killing him almost instantly while the accomplice flees.

If you are the deceased 19-year-old armed robber’s cousin, your natural reaction would be to:

A: Express a mix of shock, horror and shame that your cousin’s senseless actions not only led to his untimely death but jeopardized the lives of innocent people.

B: Express outrage that laws enabled the would-be victim to carry a concealed weapon and justifiably use it to defend himself and other patrons?

If you chose A, you probably are a rational person with a modicum of personal responsibility and respect for one’s God-given right to self-defense.

If you chose B, you have some things in common with Tamkia McSwain.

This South Carolinian and her family have generated national attention recently for speaking out against the man who shot her cousin, Dante Williams, at a Waffle House in Chesnee in January 2012.

The family does not deny Williams was committing a crime, but they say he didn’t have to die.

They are upset that the patron who shot him, Justin Harrison, wasn’t criminally charged because they say Williams was not a threat at the time Harrison pulled the trigger. They point to newly released restaurant security footage that showed Williams had the gun by his side when Harrison started firing his .45-caliber pistol.

“I understand you would feel threatened because of the situation, but you said that the gun was pointed at you, so you fired,” McSwain told Greenville’s WHNS-TV. “In fact, (Williams) was walking out.”

McSwain said the state needs to give more training before issuing concealed-weapons permits. However, Harrison’s instructor, former Spartanburg County Deputy David Blanton, told reporters the 23-year-old followed his training and was totally justified in the shooting.

“Not only was he defending his own life, which the law says he can do, but there were other people in the restaurant,” Blanton said.

Harrison said he didn’t know whether the men had murder on their minds or just robbery, but he wasn’t going to find out.

“They’re yelling, ‘Everybody get down, get down,’ and I’m just thinking, I’m not getting on the floor,” Harrison said. “I’m not going to be a victim.”

McSwain said her family is baffled as to why Williams would commit a robbery – on his birthday, no less.

“It still puzzles us as to why he would do something so crazy,” she said. “He was always sharp, always goofy, loved to dance. He was a respectable boy.”

Jawan Craig, the accomplice who fled after the shooting, is currently serving a 30-year prison term.

This case is tragic, but the tragedy lies not in the laws of South Carolina, which ensconce one’s natural right to self-defense, nor in the actions of Justin Harrison, who exercised his natural right.

The tragedy is found somewhere in the motivations of a young man who chose to walk into a late-night eatery on the morning of his 19th birthday and terrorize innocent people at gunpoint.

For those selfish and criminal acts, he paid a tragic price.

Comments (18) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
carcraft
27122
Points
carcraft 05/15/14 - 05:42 am
16
1
Live by the sword, die by the

Live by the sword, die by the sword! If you pull a gun, you beef to understand people may think you are going to shot them and shoot first. Sorry a 19 year old choose to be a thug, isn't "gangsta" rap and life style fun?

Pond Life
17682
Points
Pond Life 05/15/14 - 06:08 am
14
3
I would assume that if he had
Unpublished

I would assume that if he had a gun while robbing, that he was willing to kill with it. I say the Patron did exactly what he should have. I just wonder how long it will be until the race card is thrown.

gaflyboy
5043
Points
gaflyboy 05/15/14 - 06:59 am
11
1
ymnbde
10040
Points
ymnbde 05/15/14 - 07:18 am
9
1
any honest discussion on race starts with this-

young black males are less than 3% of the population
yet commit over 50% of all violent crimes
and, with apologies to Mr Bowie,
"all the young [black] dudes
carry [that] news"
everywhere they go
and the straightest of lines lies between this tragedy
and
THREE SCHOOLS IN RICHMOND COUNTY
HAD ZERO STUDENTS PASS THE AP EXAMS LAST YEAR
liberals- you built that

deestafford
28762
Points
deestafford 05/15/14 - 07:21 am
9
1
The gene pool was improved...

The gene pool was improved but from the comments of the cousin and family it still appears to be diluted.

Why is it when a thug is killed he was "such a respectable and nice boy whom everybody just loved"? Apparently, they did not really know this "nice boy".

Bizkit
33060
Points
Bizkit 05/15/14 - 07:48 am
9
1
To state "armed robbery" as

To state "armed robbery" as goofy pretty much says it all. A nice goofy boy waiving a gun at people to get on the floor is threatening and a terroristic act-have you had a gun pointed at-well it scares the crap out of you initially but then flight or fight kicks in and its all on. As the boy found out playing with guns is dangerous. If he was so goofy why hadn't he accidentally shot himself-that is a pitiful argument from the parent. Where did he get the gun? We all reap what we sow.

Bizkit
33060
Points
Bizkit 05/15/14 - 08:42 am
9
1
If the police happened to be

If the police happened to be stopping buy and saw him waiving his gun with all the patrons-they too would have shot him on the spot.

jimmymac
42949
Points
jimmymac 05/15/14 - 08:58 am
0
0
FAMILY
Unpublished

The reaction of the family member is all you need to see to understand the mentality of that family. No wonder the thug was robbing people at gun point after being brought up around people with such a convoluted sense of right and wrong. They should have apologized to the victims of his crime instead of railing about what a nice goofy good boy he was.

dichotomy
34491
Points
dichotomy 05/15/14 - 09:39 am
8
1
"South Carolinian and her

"South Carolinian and her family have generated national attention recently for speaking out against the man who shot her cousin"

The problem is not that the family is speaking out......the problem is that there are actually "entitled to rob" people out there paying attention to them. Every punk that tries to rob somebody......gun, knife, or strong arm.....should shot be shot dead immediately where they stand.

Bizkit
33060
Points
Bizkit 05/15/14 - 09:40 am
7
1
What is truly awful is trying

What is truly awful is trying to politicize this against Stand your ground laws bandwagon after you just lost your son, and the irony if their son had shot every patron there they wouldn't be saying a word other than he is a sweet innocent goofy kid.

seenitB4
90979
Points
seenitB4 05/15/14 - 10:44 am
8
2
Makes sense to crooks

People are complaining about the socalled "botched" killing of a death inmate.....
We have lost common sense it seems....why even listen to some about killing a thug with a GUN ....we reap what we sow is right on.

itsanotherday1
45482
Points
itsanotherday1 05/15/14 - 11:16 am
5
1
Awesome link flyboy

That attorney's experience and comments reflect precisely what we see every day. I challenge all people who don't fit that "profile", but are offended by his observations, to admit the problem and proactively help fix it.

carcraft
27122
Points
carcraft 05/15/14 - 11:31 am
7
1
Even if he was leaving the

Even if he was leaving the building what was he going to do once he got out side? What would he do next time? Sorry, but when you point a gun you open a door you may not want to go through.

Sweet son
10752
Points
Sweet son 05/15/14 - 12:58 pm
5
2
If he's leaving without harming anyone then let him go. Maybe

he will think better and not try it again. But, if he is in the establishment and is making felony demands probably with threats kill him every time.

CobaltGeorge
165050
Points
CobaltGeorge 05/15/14 - 01:30 pm
6
2
If

I'm at any location and someone points a gun at me or any other person with illegal action attempts, only two things will happen, he is dead or I am dead. Period!

justthefacts
22759
Points
justthefacts 05/15/14 - 01:44 pm
4
1
Duel

My money's on Cgee.

Bizkit
33060
Points
Bizkit 05/15/14 - 03:07 pm
6
1
They say he was leaving

They say he was leaving because he was heading to the door-but heck I can just state he wanted to step to the door before he fired his gun for a quick get away. Coulda, woulda, shoulda is a ridiculous game-he never left the building.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 05/15/14 - 10:01 pm
1
0
If somebody goes into a

If somebody goes into a restaurant and commits armed robbery, then if they get shot, it's THEIR FAULT.

An armed robbery is just a tiny bit of luck away from being a murder.

He got what he deserved.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 05/15/14 - 10:02 pm
1
0
"...He was a respectable

"...He was a respectable boy.”

No, he wasn't a boy, he was a 19 year old ADULT, and no, respectable people don't commit robberies.

corgimom
34215
Points
corgimom 05/15/14 - 10:13 pm
1
0
However, I will say this: He

However, I will say this:

He was a 19 year old high school senior. Why did his parents let him run around with a 29 year old man, what did they think would happen?

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs