ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — A convenience store clerk was charged with murder after he shot and killed a man he suspected of trying to steal a pack of cigarettes.

Alameda police said they received a call of a robbery inside a Circle K store in the 1700 block of Webster Street on Saturday evening at 11:45 p.m. Saturday.

Responding officers discovered a clerk inside the store and an adult male suffering from at least one gunshot wound. The man was transported to a local hospital where he died of his injuries. He was identified as Ethan Escorcio, 24, who was allegedly committing a petty theft when Huang opened fire, Alameda police Lt. Ryan DeRespini said.

“Interrupting a petty theft versus interrupting a robbery is obvious two separate things,” said Lt. DeRespini. “One is a property crime and the other is a violent crime against a person. And the level of self-defense that was exercised interrupting the petty theft was wildly inappropriate.”

Published reports cited Alameda County court documents that said Escorcio had been trying to steal a pack of cigarettes.

The clerk was identified as Wenyong Huang, 26, of Oakland. He was arrested shortly after police arrived at the store.

The level of force used by Huang was not justifiable, DeRespini said. Alameda Police described the shooting as a tragedy, saying that one life was ended and another forever altered.

“We don’t want anyone to get hurt. Just call the police. You might find yourself defending yourself to a level you might find justified but can rise to a criminal level that’s bigger than the crime you’re trying to intervene in,” said DeRespini.

Customers of the store say the clerk’s decision to shoot was an egregious and lethal overreaction.

“They both should have known better — him by not stealing and the clerk by not pulling out the gun,” said Christopher Contreras who is a frequent customer at the store.

Huang was being held in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, according to jail records. A spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said Huang is being held without bond because this is a murder case.

 

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