CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A pharmacist who fatally shot an armed robber in his drug store won’t face criminal charges, Kanawha County prosecutor Chuck Miller said Friday.
“The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department has interviewed witnesses and reviewed the video tapes of surveillance and provided those to the prosecuting attorney’s office,” Miller said during a news conference. “We have considered them and do not believe there are any criminal charges necessary to be filed against Mr. Don Radcliff.”
The suspect, Terry Gillenwater, entered the Good Family Pharmacy in Pinch on Wednesday morning wearing a mask. He pulled a gun and pointed it at the employees behind the counter. Radcliff was one of those employees, but was armed with a pistol and a conceal carry permit. He drew his .45 caliber pistol and shot Gillenwater three times.
After one shot struck Gillenwater’s shoulder, the assailant continued to point his gun. A second shot hit Gillenwater’s gun in the muzzle and disabled it. Gillenwater continued to point and try to shoot, but a third shot put him down. Radcliff and others immediately rendered first aid, before Gillenwater died at a Charleston hospital.
“Mr. Gillenwater had done some preliminary efforts to case the pharmacy,” said Miller. “He had done some search on his iPhone with respect to drugs in the pharmacy.”
Gillenwater had entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute OxyContin in December. The plea was deferred to allow him to enter a drug rehab program. The deferred status is designed to allow the charges to be dropped if the defendant successfully completes the course.
Miller said although every case is different, Radcliff’s action was reasonable. Under state law, Miller said everyone has the right to defend themselves against deadly force and the pointing of a loaded pistol a Radcliff and other unarmed, innocent customers and employees of the store met the threshold.
“We believe Mr. Radcliff was completely justified in his actions,” said Miller. “It’s unfortunate this young man died as a result of his own action, but that happens.
“I must say it took a great deal of courage for Mr. Radcliff to pull his weapon and fire in the face of a weapon being pointed at him that was fully loaded with a round in the chamber,” Miller said. “That takes a lot of nerve, but he was completely justified in doing so.”