Crime

Video shows Florida store owner shoot an AK-47 at an angry customer. Was it self-defense?

An angry man barged into the Kwik Pic convenience store in Lauderhill, left it in a huff and threw a garbage can at the front door, scattering trash on the floor. Then, he drove in circles outside the market and hurled a bottle at employees standing in the doorway.

The response: Store owner Saf Ahmad, 30, stormed out of the store and fired a hail of bullets from an AK-47 — all caught on dramatic surveillance video.

So was it self-defense? A Broward circuit judge will soon decide whether Ahmad was justified in shooting at Jason Morris, who was hit in the back and suffered a “permanent disability.”

Police detectives say Morris was unarmed and and “appeared to be no immediate threat to Saf Ahmad nor his employees who were standing in the doorway of the business.” But Ahmad’s lawyers say Ahmad believed the bottle was a “possible grenade or similar device” and thought Morris had grabbed a gun in an “attempt to then fire at him.”

Ahmad is seeking immunity under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force. Critics have long complained that the law, backed by the politically powerful National Rifle Association, encourages vigilante justice and gives criminals an easy way to beat allegations of violence.

A Stand Your Ground hearing will be held Nov. 1 before Broward Circuit Judge Tim Bailey. Ahmad, of Hialeah, is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm.

“Mr. Ahmad fully cooperated with the investigation, without a lawyer. He gave a record statement for hours,” said his defense lawyer, Andrew Rier. “He made sure 911 was called, and provided the video surveillance used by the police. He made every effort to protect his customers and employees, in defending himself from what he believed to be an imminent threat.”

The Broward State Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

The shooting happened on Christmas Eve of 2017. The victim was Morris, 33, of Pompano Beach. Morris told police that he went to the store upset because the previous day, a friend of his had been “severely beaten” by employees of the Kwik Pic, 5440 NW 19th St.

Morris claimed employees “constantly use threats of violence and harm to intimidate patrons,” according to a police report by Lauderhill Detective Tarra Walker.

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Saf Ahmad - Broward Sheriff's Office

Ahmad claims that Morris was cursing, making “physical gestures” and threatened to come back later “and shoot the store up.” He also yelled out, “you all Arabs gotta get out of my hood,” according to defense attorneys.

Morris is African American. Ahmad, who had a valid concealed weapons permit, hails from Palestine. His lawyers say he needs firearms because the neighborhood is a “high-crime area.”

Morris angrily left the store, got into his car and began “making donuts on the road.” Then, Morris later admitted, he threw a bottle of castor oil at the front of the store.

That “loud bang” made Ahmad believe his store was being shot at, his lawyers say. Another employee, armed with a pistol, came out and fired a warning shot in the air.

Then Ahmad came out and claimed he saw Morris reach into his waistband “while simultaneously yelling at him and making threats.”

Lauderhill police, however, didn’t believe Morris was a threat. Detectives say Ahmad and his employees were already inside the store when the bottle was thrown, and they “re-engaged” Morris.

“No firearm was found inside of the vehicle and no ballistic evidence was recovered to support Saf Ahmad’s claim that Jason Morris fired a weapon at him,” the detective wrote.

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