Man Robbed of Assault Rifle After Placing Ad; Shoots Wildly at Fleeing Suspect

A man who placed an ad on for an AR-15 assault rifle had the gun stolen from him -- then shot at the fleeing suspect with a handgun, hitting a Valley Metro van.

The messy gun deal went down in the parking lot of Sportsman's Warehouse, 1750 South Greenfield Road in Mesa, at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday, cops say.

The victim, whose name wasn't released, met the supposed buyer outside the store after the man responded to the ad. The suspect hopped in the seller's truck and pulled out a handgun. Seconds later, he exited the truck with the victim's rifle, cell phone and truck keys.

The suspect jumped into his small sedan, a blue or gray Ford Fusion or Taurus, and drove off. That's when the victim drew his own handgun from an ankle holster and snapped off three rounds in the suspect's direction.

Police later found that one of the rounds had hit a parked Valley Metro van. No word on whether anyone was inside, but there were no injuries reported. (Under Arizona law, by the way, no legal protection is offered for someone who shoots an innocent bystander, even if the person's use of deadly force is justified.)

A Sportsman's Warehouse manager wasn't available for comment. Cops say the store's surveillance cameras weren't pointed toward the location of the transaction.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern