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They kill you or you kill them': Store owner, robbed multiple times at gunpoint, shoots thief

Surveillance video captures the moment a man took off running with items from convenience store near Bakersfield, California, on Monday. Store owner Elias Aguilar shot the robber, who was in critical condition. (Image source: KBAK-TV video screen cap)

For Elias Aguilar and his family, working at their convenience store — the Azteca Market near Bakersfield, California — has seemingly become a life-or-death struggle.

Image source: KERO-TV video screen cap

Aguilar, whose words were translated by KERO-TV reporter Ivan Rodriguez, said his convenience store has been robbed at gunpoint three times in the last year.

Surveillance video shows one of those instances where Aguilar and his wife were held up by three intruders armed with rifles.

Image source: KERO-TV video screen cap

In another incident, cameras show two armed men walking into his store —

Image source: KERO-TV video screen cap

but Aguilar was ready with his own handgun that time, firing five shots at the intruders, the station reported.

Image source: KERO-TV video screen cap

Image source: KERO-TV video screen cap

"They kill you or you kill them," Aguilar told KERO. "So what can you do? You don't know what to do because it's all hanging in the balance."

He told the station that he's not afraid for himself but "for the ones who are standing next to me. ... I'm scared something may happen to them."

Aguilar noted to KERO that his working-class family is tired of constantly toiling to have it all stolen and barely being able to pay the bills. "I'm not rich," he said. "If I were, I wouldn't be working here."


And just before noon Monday, Aguilar used his gun again, this time shooting a man in the abdomen who was caught on surveillance video running from the counter with store items, KBAK-TV reported.

Image source: KBAK-TV video screen cap

Aguilar told KERO the man was acting suspiciously from the start, saying he forgot his wallet, leaving, then coming back, handing Aguilar a card, then running away with the items.

The suspect was seen on video jumping into a car, KERO reported, but was later found and hospitalized in critical condition.

Image source: KERO-TV video screen cap

Speaking to KBAK, Aguilar seemed shaken over the latest incident at his store: "You know, look what happened. ... How about if I killed him? Really, it's not worth it."

Image source: KBAK-TV video screen cap

The Kern County Sheriff's Office is investigating, and the district attorney's office told KERO it isn't known if charges will be filed on either party until the sheriff's office submits its findings.

Criminal defense attorney Kyle Humphrey, who isn't involved in this case, told KERO individuals have the right to protect themselves.

“You don’t have to let anybody touch you or harm you before you act. You just have to make sure, however, you act is on the same plain as what’s happening to you," Humphrey told KERO, adding that "a water balloon or an egg attack doesn’t justify deadly force. Deadly force justifies deadly force."

Aguilar told KERO Tuesday he closed the store to rest and is concerned over the possibility of facing charges.

This story has been updated.

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