A Lodi liquor store owner is behind bars and facing a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon after police say he shot a man fleeing his store with a case of stolen beer.
Gurminder "Gary" Parmar, 48, fired one round at the suspected beer thief, Christopher Driggers, striking him between the shoulder and neck on Tuesday night.
Parmar remains in custody and Driggers, 21, a Lodi High School grad serving with the U.S. Army, was treated and released at Lodi Memorial Hospital.
Parmar's wife, Satnam Parmar, said she had not seen her husband since his arrest early Wednesday morning.
She was working alone at the liquor store Wednesday afternoon. She and her husband are the only ones who work there, and she also had to watch over their 10-year-old and 12-year-old, who were sitting in the back of the store Wednesday, watching television.
Satnam Parmar said her husband purchased the handgun that he used to shoot Driggers after Parmar was robbed at gunpoint by a suspected gang member in January 2011.
That suspect, Marcos Martinez, was later arrested on charges of first-degree robbery.
The gun was meant to be used for protection, Satnam Parmar said.
"I am very upset," she said when asked about the incident. "I have no idea how he is doing. We have no other employees, it is just us."
Police offered this account of the incident:
At approximately 9:49 p.m. Tuesday, a customer at Tokay Liquor at 8 E. Lockeford St. called police and told them that a robbery had just occurred at the store.
When police arrived at the business, it was discovered that Gurminder Parmar, the store owner, had fired one round from his handgun at a man who had fled the store with a 12-pack of Platinum Budweiser.
Driggers, the suspected thief, was hit between the shoulder and his neck, police said.
Driggers was a 2009 graduate of Lodi High School. He is currently a private first class in the U.S. Army. He is an automated logistical specialist, managing warehouse supplies, inventory and the loading and unloading of shipments, among other tasks.
The U.S. Army had not returned calls for comment regarding Driggers' status.
Lodi police and paramedics located Driggers and the case of beer on the 400 block of North Church Street, a few blocks northwest of the store.
Driggers was taken to Lodi Memorial Hospital to be treated for his wound, Detective Eric Bradley of the Lodi Police Department said.
According to Officer Jim Pendergast, also of the Lodi Police Department, Driggers was only at Lodi Memorial Hospital for a few hours for treatment before he was released. His injury was not life-threatening.
Pendergast said Driggers admitted to stealing the alcohol.
Though Driggers was not arrested after he was released from the hospital, Pendergast said the San Joaquin County District Attorney could still decide to press charges.
Calls to the district attorney's office were not returned as of press time.
Following further investigation, Parmar was arrested and faces a charge of an assault with a deadly weapon. He was booked at the Lodi jail, where he remains in custody.
Parmar declined comment on the advice of his lawyer.
Parmar told police he was scared that he would be robbed when Driggers began walking out without paying for the beer, which cost roughly $15 total, Pendergast said.
Parmar's charge is considered a felony, Pendergast said.
According to the police, in California a person is allowed to use deadly force only when their life or the life or someone around them is immediately threatened. However, Driggers never had a weapon nor made any type of threats towards Parmar, the release stated.
If Parmar is charged and convicted, he faces up to four years in state prison, a $10,000 fine or a possible "strike" on his record, among other penalties.
His bail has been set at $50,000, according to the Lodi Police Department.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.