Friday, March 17, 2006
News staff writer
A 74-year-old Birmingham shop owner stared into the barrel of a gun inches from his face Thursday, but said he felt no fear.
Joe Montabana could see there were no cartridges in the cylinder of the snub-nosed revolver. It was brandished by a bad guy and pointed straight at him.
Montabana got angry. And he fought back.
The longtime owner of Joe's Auto Parts near the Kingston community grabbed his own revolver, and moments later unleashed five shots toward the would-be robber.
"When he saw my gun, he went out the door really quick."
The fleeing man jumped into a waiting car occupied by two others. It was unknown whether anyone was injured; police were watching area hospitals to see if any gunshot victims would show up.
Montabana said it began when the man came into his 47th Street North store about 1 p.m. and asked him to duplicate a key. Montabana turned his back on the customer briefly, and when he turned back around the man had pulled the gun.
"He said something like `this is a robbery' or `you know what this is,' and he said `go around to the cash register,"` Montabana said. "I saw all the chambers were empty, so I just walked back behind the counter and got my own gun."
The robber immediately dashed for the front door. Montabana followed him and, once outside, opened fire.
"I just walked right here and started shooting," Montabana said, showing where the getaway car had been parked. "If I didn't hit the car, I don't know how I missed it."
Montabana opened the shop in 1965. The only previous trouble for his business happened 20 years ago, he said, when someone robbed the business, firing shots at his wife, who works there with him.
He seemed relatively unscathed by Thursday's event and said he had no qualms about firing his gun.
"He was robbing me. All I'm upset about is my damn lunch got cold."