A tragic event in February 2015 has come into the spotlight again due to recent gun debates.
It was an ordinary Wednesday in the winter of 2015 when Tyler Williams spotted a 67-year-old man walking in the woods. The teenager probably thought he had found an easy target since he was looking for fast cash. However, the events took an unexpected turn when he approached the older man.
The 18-year-old found his victim on a path in the woods at Cobbs Creek Park. The older man had gone out into the park by himself to get some exercise.
The teenager donned a mask and approached the lone 67-year-old with the intent to rob him. He intended to scare the older man and force him to hand over his cash.
Williams had armed himself with a fake gun and planned to trick his victim into thinking it was real. It turned out that the robber's mistake would cost him his life.
The intended victim of the robbery indeed believed that his life was threatened. However, when the man saw the masked teenager approaching him with the gun pointed at his face, he acted quickly.
The older Pennsylvanian man reached out and grabbed the gunman's firearm, directing it away from himself. At the same time, he pulled out his own .38 caliber handgun.
Fearing for his life, the man shot Williams in the head and fled from the woods. Once in safety, he called the police and told them what had happened.
Initial reports said the teenager was with a friend at the time of the attempted robbery. However, the police later revealed that it was unclear whether the second man in the area had any relation to the robber.
The man ran from the woods when he heard the shot.
The police arrived at Cobbs Creek Park and found that Williams had died from his injury. He was found at the crime scene with a fake firearm and half a dozen cell phones.
According to Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, the authorities first thought that the gun was real because it looked so realistic. After a closer inspection, it was revealed to be a metal pellets gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol.
The 67-year-old man was taken to the local hospital with chest pains following the incident. However, he soon thereafter made a full recovery.
The shooting was ruled an appropriate act of self-defense since the man had every reason to believe his life was being threatened. He faced no charges.
The man was a "concealed weapons license" holder without any criminal record.
At the time, the event sparked discussions, with many citizens standing on the 67-year-old victim's side and applauding his choice to defend himself.
On the other side stood the critics that found the death of the teenager armed with a fake gun to be a tragedy. They did not see the need to use lethal force to stop the robbery. Many have been and are still critical of the gun politics that allows open or concealed carry of guns in many states.
The supporters claim that it should be allowed to use any means necessary when you find yourself in a situation where your life is threatened.
A pellet gun looks very much like a real weapon, and there was no way the man could have known he was not in life-threatening danger.
Let's just hope the teenagers' tragic end has been a lesson learned for others that might think about executing a robbery in the search for fast cash. Crime does not pay.