Black Friday, Texas style: Mall shopper who pulled gun on line-cutter "within rights," say cops

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a mall shopper who brandished a handgun on a dude trying to cut in line was within his rights, according to police, because he had a permit for the weapon and was using it in self-defense.

San Antonio police officers were called to the Sears location around 9pm on Thanksgiving Day, before the turkey was even cold, in response to a call about a shooting.

When they arrived, they detained Jose Alonzo Salame, 33, who was holding a black 9 mm semi-automatic handgun with a black holster.

"We dont see this very often," Officer Matthew Porter said, adding that Salame did not break the law by displaying the weapon. "He was within his rights."

Police confiscated the gun, which was loaded and had one round in a chamber, the report says.Salame reportedly showed proof that he had a concealed handgun license, and he told officers that he pulled the gun out to defend himself because he was punched in the face by Alejandro Alex, 35.

Mr. Salame didn't discharge his weapon, and said he displayed it because he was afraid Mr. Alex would hit him again. A Sears manager congratulated him with a store voucher. The incident happened about an hour after the store opened to jam-packed crowds seeking pre-Black-Friday Thanksgiving bargains.

The shoppers scattered, "tumbling over things, dropping boxes," according to one eyewitness, and "the man who was trying to cut in line ran and hid behind a refrigerator before he fled the store."

Here, you try and make sense of it.

(via Miles O'Brien; image: Shutterstock)


  1. I’m glad some people are working hard to keep the American commerce engine firing on all cylinders. I’m too old for that. 

  2. Getting punched in the face in real life isn’t like in the movies, it can kill or cripple you. It is deadly force and someone is entitled to defend themselves from it. 

    1. This is true, but pulling a gun in a crowd, however, is interpreted as “I am about to go on a killing spree.”  The shock and panic induced by such an act could also result in deaths and injuries (especially if another shopper happened to be armed…).
      Guns are a good solution only if you take a solipsistic approach.

      1.  He didn’t even point the gun at anyone…he just made the gun visible because he was assaulted by someone.
        I just love it when the media says things like “gun pulled on someone for cutting in line”.

        1. Er, what now?  “Witnesses reportedly told police that Salme had behaved rudely that morning and had provoked the situation before pulling the handgun and pointing it at Alex”
          People saw it and panicked, which is the important part.  The other significant bit is that having the gun no doubt caused the guy to escalate the situation to the point where he felt the need to whip it out.  (I’ve seen studies that suggest this is generally the case with gun owners.)

          1.  Only the police, WHO WEREN’T THERE said he pointed at the ground. They lied because they didn’t want to take the time to arrest the asshole. They had witnesses that said he a) was belligerent and b) pointed at the other guy.

            At least in PA where I am, brandishing a weapon is a felony even if one has a CC permit.

            At the least, the guys permit should have been revoked.

            PS. He’s a moron in any case because he only had 1 bullet in his gun? He’s about 90% likely to miss his first shot at which point I will fill him with lead from my fully loaded weapon.

          2.  You mis-read that. “which was loaded and had one round in a chamber…” The gun was FULLY Loaded and one was in the chamber. So, he was in danger of an accidental discharge if he handled it poorly.

        2. From an eyewitness account in the article:

          “While everyone was panicking, the man with the gun stood there, he said, and looked around, lowering the weapon.”

      2. Your right to not have the shit beat out of you doesn’t end because exercising it might be a bit scary. Defending himself/preserving his health was a necessity in this situation. *Actually firing the gun* would have been reckless as hell though in this situation.

        Saying fire in a crowded theater *when there is none* is bad because it causes panic and there is no fire necessitating the warning

        Saying fire in a crowded theater where there is a fire, however it’s not just not very bad, is reasonable. I WILL concede  however, pulling his gun was perhaps not the best solution visible in the aftermath and clarity of reading about it on the internet instead of reacting in the heat of the moment after being punched in the face. I think guns are much more appropriate when alone and without the help of others.

        1. Guy was apparently acting like an asshole, escalated a tense situation and got punched, once (“punch” being an ambiguous term that could indicate various levels of force).  He wasn’t in danger of being beaten to death.  He then started brandishing a deadly weapon, freaking everyone in the crowd around him, out.  This is not a reasonable response.  If there was a fire in this metaphorical theater, he would have been responsible for having started it. 

    2. Had there been no gun there, he may not have been hit in the face in the first place…

      It sounds like he was behaving rudely before the incident, which makes me wonder if the glock made him feel more secure about acting out. He may have just kept his mouth shut and let a minor incident slide had he not been carrying… we’ll never know.

    1. Make it snappy, too, mate. Black Friday, like Ash Die Back, has been detected here in the UK. There are fears it might spread.

    2. Sales or not, it’s stupid to go shopping when a store is especially busy. Black Friday is, by its nature, the worst possible time to go shopping.

      1. Is there an official term for this? Seems like the same psychological effect that rewards club owners for artificially lengthening lines by making people wait outside. Also, people standing in long lines to see an opening day movie. It’s suboptimal behavior in that one can wait until after the holidays, walk down the street to a quiet corner bar, wait til mid-week.

      2. Also, a parade is an exceptionally sub-optimal time to visit a street but every asshole in a 10 mile radius always shows up. I don’t *get* people sometimes.

        And why do people pay more to visit a busy stadium? I don’t give a shit if it is the World Series, I should be compensated for putting up with the additional drunken bullshit.

  3. aside from increasing the shock value of this story, why is there a picture of a Glock? i am assuming that the pistol shown is not the firearm that was involved, and the news report did not identify the make of the firearm.

    1. It’s a 9mm handgun, and the closest thing our stock photo service had to what could have conceievably been used in the story. Who’s to say it wasn’t a Glock? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, the blog post makes it clear it’s a stock photo.

      I own a 9mm Beretta, btw, and I think guns are awesome.

      I think it sounds like the guy who pulled one in a crowd in this story was using his weapon recklessly and being a dick, and the article indicates his dickishness was a factor in the escalation.

      Responsible gun-owners do not seek out trouble or use their guns to escalate situations.

      1. I’m up in Austin and one news story said it was a Glock 22, which is actually a .40cal. So I think using a Glock for the pic was the right call. I don’t really expect the news media to get everything right when it comes to firearms though. “Lets say it was a Glock as people know that name.”

        1. Welp, if there’s an authoritative report on the type of weapon, I will change my stock photo here.

          There is a big difference between a 9mm whatever and a .40cal Glock. But not to people who are unfamiliar with handguns.

    2. More accurate than showing a picture of a plunger.

      It’s bad enough that people get trampled to death now we have to worry about people with guns? This is an American “tradition” that could not disappear fast enough.

  4. Funny, I don’t see the issue here, other than the misleading title. The guy he drew on was a line cutter, but he also assaulted the guy.
    Gun in crowded place doesn’t mean shooting spree in this context. Also, he didn’t shoot, and the situation ended in probably the best possible way.

    1.  I cannot think of any good reason why I shouldn’t pull a gun on someone who steps on my toes, or plays his music too loudly, or who cuts me off in traffic. We should pull our guns out whenever we get upset. Think of doing so as a governor.

      1. And lets’ not forget the need to draw when faced with people who talk on cellphones in the grocery store, people with more than 14 items in the quick-check line, and people who don’t pull ahead fast enough at the burger drive-thru.  All perfectly reasonable times to flash a piece.

    2. Also, he didn’t shoot, and the situation ended in probably the best possible way.
      A panicked stampede was “the best possibly way” to end a shouting match?  Sure, why not?

      (Yes, I know he got punched – once. Why not yell for security at that point? They guy who threw the punch would probably be removed without having to risk gunfire.)

  5. The headline is very misleading.

    Showing a gun to someone who punches you is not necessarily unreasonable. Pulling a gun on someone who cuts in line is.

    I’ve always wanted to offer a cash bribe to the second person line to let me go ahead and film the reaction of everyone else in line.

  6. The title I used is absolutely fine. They got into a conflict over line-cutting. The gun dude pulled his gun on the line-cutter dude after they were dicks to each other.

    From the motherfucking article, which all of you should read:

    Witnesses reportedly told police that Salme had behaved rudely that morning and had provoked the situation before pulling the handgun and pointing it at Alex…

    Gun guy provoked line-cutter punchy guy.

    There’s a mellow way to resolve the kind of conflict they had, and the Texas Way which leads to escalation and punching and the inevitable brandishing of firearms in an intensely crowded enclosed space full of families and children.

    Gun guy was clearly a dick.

    1. Normally, I’d be on your side, but the summary you used doesn’t say anything about the gun owner being a dick (or escalating tensions).  He tells a guy that is cutting not to, get’s punched and pulls a gun out to defend himself.  I’m not a gun guy, and even I am on the gun owner’s side in this summary.

      The full article mentions some witnesses saying the gun owner was the jerk and the aggressor, which changes it a bit.  But it was still the other guy that escalated it to violence and the gun owner stopped the violence.  This is how it is SUPPOSED to work, so this story is actually a support of concealed gun laws (which I’m normally very much against).

        1. Indeed, if someone is being an asshole to me in public, I would go outside and get some fresh air rather than punch them.

      1. “Normally, I’d be on your side, but the summary you used doesn’t say anything about the gun owner being a dick (or escalating tensions).”

        So get off your ass & RTFA, or depend on a summary to be encyclopedic, I don’t care, you think the gun guy, who was out n about looking for trouble and pulled his gun when he found it, was a-okay…
        cept he shouldn’t have a permit if he goes about looking for trouble.

    2. “Texas Way”?  I’ve lived in Texas for 38 years and been in plenty of tense situations.  I’ve never seen someone pull a gun. But nevermind about that, OMG LOL TEXANS LOVE GUNS AMIRITE? 

        1. No fair; Texas should have to take the rest of the red states with them. Why should someone else get stuck with them?

    3.  I’m so surprised that a guy who carries a gun to go xmas shopping would act like an ass.  I’m also surprised when the sun rises and sets each day.

    4.  Both guys were dicks.  But only one guy chose to cut into a line of shoppers and get physical when challenged on it.
      I’m all for more gun control, but how stupid do you have to be to start trouble with some random dude in Texas?  What’s next?  Robbing a donut shop in Boston?

      1. “Texas is the only state that came into the Union by treaty. It retains the right to secede at will. We have heard them threaten to secede so often that I formed an enthusiastic organization—The American Friends for Texas Secession. This stops the subject cold. They want to be able to secede but they don’t want anyone to want them to.”

        John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie (which is an awesome book all round)

  7. I’m from a nation with so few firearms that the police aren’t armed, and I for one heartily endorse the brandishing of firearms against people queue-jumping. :)

  8. If you punch someone in the face to save money on Black Friday, you’re an asshole.

    If you bring a loaded gun with you on Black Friday, you’re a tremendous fucking asshole.

  9. Most people I know belong to the school of tactical thought that says you don’t ever get your gun out to brandish it. You get it out to shoot someone.

    1. I absolutely agree with this sentiment; 99% of the time showing your gun in the holster is going to have the same effect (minus the chaotic panic of everyone around you) as pulling it will.

  10. Do have to agree about the misleading title. Pulling a gun is reprehensible, but I clicked through expecting to read about police condoning the use of firearms in cases of queuing protocol violation (I’m British, we really dig queuing protocol). Any such violation becomes incidental when punching is involved. You could equally claim cops condone pulling firearms in response to getting funny looks.

          1. Of course it does, but my state also has gone for Obama the last two election cycles, my state has one of the most liberal members of the senate, and my state is not a hot bed of religious zealotry.

    1.  Texas allows me to smoke all the weed I want, but they do get annoyed when I don’t pay my taxes.
      Sincerely yours,
      Willie Nelson

  11. Here’s what’s will *inevitably* happen when enough people are carrying:  Someone gets into an argument that escalates to a push or punch from the unarmed person, giving the armed person a reason to whip it out. The crowd panics (as well it should), screaming and fleeing.  One, two, or more other concealed carriers see the people fleeing from the first gunman and whip out theirs, shoot at the first one.  One, two, or more people are shot.

    1. And in the US where there are literally millions of lawful concealed carriers and your scenario has happened how many times? 

    2. That kind of scenario is exactly what some people throw around whenever a given state is considering expanding the ability of its citizens to carry, and yet it never happens. This is not a hypothetical. We have plenty of data to show that this scenario does not match up with reality.

    1. I honestly cannot fathom how this many punching-as-a-solution-to-a-disagreement apologists appear. What the fuck is wrong with you people?

  12. I agree with tempophage. Pulling a pistol in response to being assaulted is (probably) just a normal/valid exercise of one’s rights of self-defense (the laws of which vary from state to state, although my understanding is that Texas has a fairly liberal self defense standard, I am confident in stating that no state has a self defense law that would allow you to point a weapon at someone for cutting in line). Suggesting that a weapon was brandished as a result of someone cutting in line seems factually incorrect (and perhaps even “clickbait”).

    As an interesting aside; there is such a thing as a “failed self defense”, which can apply if a person initially provokes the violence which he must claim self defense from (by using a gun for instance).

    Finally, the police do not have to arrest anyone, or even write a person a citation for that person to ultimately be charged with a crime. It is not impossible that a DA would read this police report, and later decide to charge both parties (I am not suggesting that anyone should be charged, only that it is hypothetically possible). In a word, it is not up to the police (generally) whether to charge a person criminally, and if a DA decided that this was an invalid exercise of the self-defense right for whatever reason, both parties could be charged.

  13. Okay, after reading these comments, I have come to one unassailable conclusion: Stay the f*ck away from stores on Black Friday! In fact, best to stay away between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I’m not going to be able to solve the gun debate though, both sides have their merits. Since the eyewitness reports don’t agree on the details, any judgment would be based on speculation. That being said, I don’t like concealed carry permits. I am fully qualified to operate and maintain a firearm and I held a sharpshooter classification when I was in the service. But though, (or perhaps because), I live in the same town this incident took place, I don’t own a weapon. I never saw the need for one. There are other ways to settle differences.

  14. “Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?”

  15. A brandished firearm has to be treated by anyone in the vicinity as a weapon that will be used and not as a prop. This is why any cop in America is empowered to use lethal force against a drawn handgun. The gun-owner’s response is hugely out of proportion with the situation, even if the line-cutter deserved a serious ass-kicking. Responding to belligerence with an implied death penalty is a bit much, don’t you think?

  16. To a large extent this is just click bait, because it is really a story about someone pulling a gun after he was assaulted, not a story about line-cutting.  However there is still a problem with being allowed to pull a gun in such a crowded situation.  In addition to the accidental discharge risk, what about people standing behind the original assailant.  Would they be justified in shooting the guy who defended himself with a gun in order to protect themselves from the risk that he might shoot and miss, or shoot through the original assailant?

  17. The guy was cutting in line and was preventing someone else in line for buying some material object.    For THIS someone, either the line cutter or an innocent bystander, has to face imminent death? 

  18. “Man who pulled gun on assailant in shopping line said to have ‘Acted within his rights’ ”

    There, I fixed the misleading headline. A first paragraph that mentions only line cutting and not the assault is also misleading, but rewriting that exceeds my pro-bono correcting of faulty information

  19. Small point – this did not occur on Black Friday but on Thanksgiving night:

    “Officers were dispatched to the mall’s Sears store about 9 p.m. Thursday  in response to a call about a shooting, according to an incident report.”

    1. Great…. now we’re not even sticking around for desert before going shopping…..

      Nice to know that working for Sears in Texas means you don’t get to spend thanksgiving with your family.

  20. I think that what this situation illustrates is that some people really do deserve to get punched in the face, and that legal guns don’t just provide an avenue for personal protection, but also for the protection of bad attitudes.  

  21. when defending yourself, a gun pulling situation, is when somebody is about pulling his from his belt, or a knife, or a batton, or something like that, not when somebody punch you in the face. Somebody say something about “growing a pair” and defending yourself. what an ass- having a pair would be defending words with words, fists with fists and so on…. otherwise, a recipe for abuse is cooking…

  22. Legally this gets a bit complicated, but here is a little background on self-defense statutes.

    In many jurisdictions, one has a “duty to retreat” from a threat before resorting to deadly force. These rules are generally more or less liberal.
    In the most conservative states there may always be a duty to retreat (I’m not sure if this is still the case in any state at this point).

    In less conservative manifestations of the rule, one might have no duty to retreat if they are in their own home, but would still have a duty to retreat everywhere else.

    In the least conservative states, one would never have a duty to retreat.

    Further, state statutes may require a person to be confronted with different levels of force before resorting to actual deadly force in self defense.
    The traditional rule is that one could only respond using deadly force if they were face with an attack which a reasonable person would believe likely to result in their death or great bodily injury.

    Modernly, states have modified this rule in all sorts of ways, and ostensibly some states allow the use of deadly force in response to lower levels of force than those traditionally required.

    The instant facts are a little more complicated, as no deadly force was actually used, rather there was only a brandishing of a firearm, so we would need a Texas criminal defense attorney to talk about how that should play out to really figure out what was going on legally.

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