Monday, November 20, 2017
Public safety

Man shopping for coffee creamer at Walmart attacked by vigilante for carrying gun he was legally permitted to have

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BRANDON — Clarence Daniels had just crossed the threshold of Walmart's front doors on Tuesday, in search of coffee creamer for his wife, when the gun in hip holster gave a well-intentioned vigilante the idea he was up to something more sinister.

From the Walmart parking lot at 11110 Causeway Boulevard, Michael Foster, 43, of Lithia had watched Daniels, 62, take from his car the handgun — for which he holds a concealed carry permit — and place it on his hip underneath his coat, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies reported.

As Daniels entered the store, a label for the coffee creamer in his pocket in case he forgot the brand, Foster tackled him to the ground and placed him in a choke hold, sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

"He's got a gun!" deputies said Foster shouted.

"I have a permit!" Daniels yelled back multiple times, McKinnon said.

The men struggled and were separated until law enforcement arrived on scene just before noon. Foster was arrested and charged with battery.

"Unfortunately he tackled a guy that was a law-abiding citizen," McKinnon said. "We understand it's alarming for people to see other people with guns, but Florida has a large population of concealed weapons permit holders."

The Sheriff's Office recommends that vigilante-inclined citizens refrain from taking matters into their own hands, especially when an incident is gun-related. Call 911 or alert security, McKinnon said, before taking any drastic measure.

"You better make sure there's a good reason," he added. "Otherwise you might be confronting a guy that is legally permitted to carry a gun."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow her @kemettler.

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