Of Full Armor Gun Range

Gun Trader Texas Houston


Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle

Plywood boards cover the outside of Full Armor Gun Range, whose owner said an attempted burglary early Tuesday was the 14th robbery in five years.

Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle

Men tried to break into a car outside Full Armor Gun Range shortly after midnight. Two employees exchanged fire with the suspects Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Houston. The store has signs reading "All guns locked in vault at night" and "Brick wall behind glass" all over the shop.

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Men tried to break into a car outside Full Armor Gun Range shortly after midnight. Two employees exchanged fire with the suspects Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Houston. The store has signs reading "All guns locked

... morePhoto: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle Property manager Thanh Nguyen sweeps the shattered glass of a former burger joint window after an exchange of gunfire between two Full Armor Gun Range employees and attempted burglary suspects shortly after midnight Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Houston. Nguyen said it was lucky the burger joint moved out on the day before. lessProperty manager Thanh Nguyen sweeps the shattered glass of a former burger joint window after an exchange of gunfire between two Full Armor Gun Range employees and attempted burglary suspects shortly after ... morePhoto: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle Men tried to break into a vehicle outside a gun shop about 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road Tuesday, January 17, in Houston. Two gun shop employees came out with guns drawn and shot at one of the suspect cars. According to Houston Police Department, the gun shop had been broken into a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. lessMen tried to break into a vehicle outside a gun shop about 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road Tuesday, January 17, in Houston. Two gun shop employees came out with guns drawn and shot at one of ... morePhoto: Yi-Chin Lee / Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle Men tried to break into a vehicle outside a gun shop about 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road Tuesday, January 17, in Houston. Two gun shop employees came out with guns drawn and shot at one of the suspect cars. According to Houston Police Department, the gun shop had been broken into a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. lessMen tried to break into a vehicle outside a gun shop about 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road Tuesday, January 17, in Houston. Two gun shop employees came out with guns drawn and shot at one of ... morePhoto: Yi-Chin Lee / Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle A gunfight that started after an attempted vehicle robbery outside a gun shop around 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road left a broken window and shattered glass on the ground Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Houston. lessA gunfight that started after an attempted vehicle robbery outside a gun shop around 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road left a broken window and shattered glass on the ground Tuesday, Jan. 17... morePhoto: Yi-Chin Lee / Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle Men tried to break into a vehicle outside a gun shop about 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road Tuesday, January 17, in Houston. Two gun shop employees came out with guns drawn and shot at one of the suspect cars. According to Houston Police Department, the gun shop had been broken into a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. lessMen tried to break into a vehicle outside a gun shop about 12:15 a.m. on Katy Freeway near North Kirkwood Road Tuesday, January 17, in Houston. Two gun shop employees came out with guns drawn and shot at one of ... moreWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway in west Houston. (Metro Video) lessWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway ... moreWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway in west Houston. (Metro Video) lessWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway ... moreWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway in west Houston. (Metro Video) lessWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway ... moreWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway in west Houston. (Metro Video) lessWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway ... moreWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway in west Houston. (Metro Video) lessWould-be thieves got more than they bargained for when workers at a gun shop surprised them during an attempted burglary about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at the store in the 11900 block of Katy Freeway ... more

Gun store owner James Hillin was fed up. After thieves carefully cut out a glass window and sawed through metal bars during a break-in earlier this month — the store's 13th burglary in five years &mash; Hillin asked two employees to stay overnight at the west Houston shop, Full Armor Firearms.

"It's just constant, " he said of the gun thefts, which federal officials say have increased in the area. "They'll scout you and hit you."

Shortly after midnight Tuesday, Hillin said, one of the employees looked up from the computer where he was watching YouTube videos to pass the time. He noticed two sedans pull into the store's front parking lot.

The man alerted his coworker. They grabbed weapons, including an AR-15 carbine, and poked their heads out the door. They saw about five men near the employee's vehicles.

One of the men shot at the employees, one worker told police. The employees escaped injury and returned fire as several of the suspects jumped into one of the cars and fled.

The employees detained two burglars and called 911 to report a burglary in progress. Houston police officers responded and detained the men, Lt. Larry Crowson said. One of them had a pistol.

Half an hour later, two people in a car pulled up outside West Houston Medical Center, less than 4 miles south of the gun shop. They dropped off a man with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds to the back and drove away, Crowson said.

Police interviewed and released the wounded man and one of the men detained at the scene, HPD representatives said Tuesday afternoon. Though the store employees reported a burglary in progress, spokesman John Cannon clarified, the men had not broken into the vehicles and police did not have probable cause to hold the men.

"At this time, it's still an active investigation to determine what if any charges will be filed, " Cannon said.

However, police found that the man detained with a pistol was a felon. That man, identified as Darrien Vandrell Sams, was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Harris County court records show in 2010 the 24-year-old Brookshire resident pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after prosecutors alleged he knocked a senior citizen out of his walker and stole his TV, jewelry and cash. Sams was sentenced to 13 months in state jail. In 2011, he was convicted of home burglary in Waller County and sentenced to 2 years. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to burglary of a building and was sentenced to 8 months.

Prosecutors likely will ask a grand jury to decide whether charges are merited in the case of the employee who fired at the fleeing men, Cannon said, as is standard when someone contends they used a weapon to defend life or property.

Hillin lauded his workers for catching the armed men. Inside the car left behind at the scene, police found several pairs of new tennis shoes and a cache of electronics.

"They weren't there because they were nice guys, " Hillin said. "They were there to hurt people. And that's why my guys are heroes. How many people did they save?"

The store owner declined to identify his employees, partly out of fear of possible retaliation.

Houston is among the areas experiencing an increase in gun-shop thefts, according to local officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In 2015, the most recent year with available data, Texas led the nation in reports of firearms stolen from gun sellers, edging out Florida and Georgia with 725 guns taken in 113 separate burglaries, thefts or robberies. Those numbers represent a small increase over 2014, which itself saw a 14 percent jump over 2013.

Ryan Taylor, an ATF group supervisor, attributed the robberies to small local networks, not drug cartels or large-scale organized crime. Criminals can sell their loot easily and make a quick profit in the area's thriving black market for weapons, at times hawking the stolen goods on social media.



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