Did Shopowner Take 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' too Far?

Business owner recalls the day gunmen entered his store, and how he fought back.

ByABC News
September 21, 2009, 1:42 PM

Sept. 23, 2009 — -- It happens all over the country, and the results can be seen all over the Internet.

In Phoenix, a jewelry store owner fought back after two robbers used mace to try to subdue him. In Tacoma, Wash., a clerk resisted an attempted robbery by turning the robber's own weapon on him.

And it happened on 125th Street in New York's Harlem. The neighborhood is home to the famed Apollo Theater -- and the lesser-known Blue Flame Supply Co., where 72-year-old Coast Guard veteran Charles Augusto Jr., known as Gus, had worked for 50 years. Now he owns the place.

"There wasn't much business, it was a boring day," Augusto said, recalling the afternoon of Aug. 13. "This is where I was sitting when they came in, and I heard the front door. As you can see, I couldn't see how many of those people came in, I couldn't tell how many people had guns, 'cause you can't see from down there. ... All I know is the kid with the hoodie on and the heavy, heavy sweatshirt had a gun, and he was standing there pointing it at Dorothy," who was one of his employees.

Augusto said he remembered the standoff in every detail.

"He had his hand through the window, I think it was his left hand," he said. "He doesn't know I'm here. And he's threatening her: 'Where's the money, Where's the money? I'll kill you if you don't give me the money.' And I'm sitting here, and I'm saying, 'Hey kid. ...' He got startled, he jumped up. He got startled. And now he's waving the gun back and forth."

Augusto said the man couldn't decide whom to point the gun at.

"He didn't know what to do," Augusto said. "I told him, 'There's no money. Nobody came in and bought anything today, I'm telling the truth.'"

Another of Augusto's employees, who goes by the name of Jay, was near the front door struggling with the intruders.

"Then I told the kid to go. And then the one in the red shirt came up and said, 'I need help,' to subdue Jay," Augusto said. "If Jay didn't put up a fight ... I couldn't have done nothing.

"Once he went down there, that's when he made a mistake."