By Ray Stern
When Tempe gun store owner Stephen Saridakis (pictured) was quoted in a recent Channel 3 (KTVK) TV news story about booming firearm sales, viewers with good memories might have thought: Shouldn't he be in jail?
After all, the last time the gun shop owner was in the news, it was for shooting the tire of an alleged gun thief's getaway car. Reports about the vigilante-like January incident on Channel 15 (KNXV) and in local newspapers said that the crime suspect, 22-year-old Nathaniel Jones, had given back a stolen gun to Saridakis just before the businessman blew out Jones' tire with multiple rounds from his handgun. Police arrested both Jones and Saridakis, who owns S&S Firearms near Priest and University drives.
Tempe prosecutors made Saridakis sweat over possible charges for a while, but about three months ago the city informed him there would be no legal consequences for taking the shots, he says.
Saridakis tells New Times he didn't shoot at Jones to be vindictive. Jones had just stolen an AK-47 pistol, a powerful handgun that shoots assault-rifle ammunition, and Saridakis tried to arrest him, he says. The two struggled, at which point Saridakis -- who was armed at the time -- says he could have shot and killed Jones, but didn't want to.
After Jones (at left) gave back the pistol and got in his car, Saridakis was determined to hold the man until police could get there.
"I tried to block the guy from driving away," Saridakis says. "I side-stepped the car when I realized he was trying to run me over and I shot out his front wheel."
Court records show Jones was never charged with a felony, and Tempe prosecutors did not return calls about the incident today. Saridakis says the last he heard, Jones had been released with a court-monitored ankle bracelet.
"He's not welcome here," Saridakis says brusquely.
All's well that ends well -- Saridakis reports that his sales shot up noticeably as curious folks who had heard about the shooting flocked to the store.