A group of four black Ferguson residents reportedly armed themselves and descended upon a white-owned business following a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. But unlike many of the Ferguson demonstrators, the armed men were there to protect the business, not destroy it in protest.
The men told the Las Vegas Review Journal that they feel indebted to the white store owner, Doug Merello, who has given them employment over the years.
“We would have been burned to the ground many times over if it weren’t for them,” Morello said following the Ferguson riots. The business is a Conoco gas station and convenience store first bought by Morello’s father in 1984.
The black residents reportedly chased off groups of teenagers who allegedly wanted to loot the store. They also reportedly had a close-call after they were mistaken for looters by soldiers with the Missouri National Guard. One of the men was reportedly handcuffed temporarily until Morello could explain to the soldiers what they were doing at his business.
Luckily, they were able to protect the business and no one was hurt. It should also be noted that Missouri is an open carry state.
One of the men, who called himself R.J., said Morello has “helped us a lot” and referred to him as a “nice guy.” R.J., 28, reportedly openly carried a 9mm pistol. Another one of the courageous men, Jordan, also carried a pistol and another one was armed with an AR-15 rifle.
The Las Vegas Review Journal also reports that the men had to deal with a “commotion” that occurred inside the store. After Morello kicked him out, Sean Turner, one of the armed residents, reportedly showed his .40 caliber pistol and told the disruptive man, “This is what happens if you try to steal from this place.”