Two robbers picked the wrong guy to hold up outside Park City Center Thursday afternoon.
One pointed a gun at a 25-year-old city man and tried to rob him, but he retrieved his own gun from his car and pointed it at the robber, city police Lt. Todd Umstead said Friday.
Both robbers fled, but police caught them nearby. They were Randy Howard, 19, of the 300 block of Perry Street, Columbia, and Tyler Harrison, 21, of the 200 block of Walnut Street, Columbia.
Here’s what police say happened:
The 25-year-old was sitting in his vehicle and his 22-year-old girlfriend from Newmanstown was standing outside of the car in the Sears parking lot at around 3:15 p.m.
Howard walked up and asked if he could use the man’s lighter. The man gave Howard his lighter and Howard walked to the back of the car.
Harrison approached, pointed a handgun at the man and demanded his possessions, Umstead said.
The man, who has a permit to carry a concealed handgun, retrieved it from his car and pointed it at Harrison.
Harrison and Howard then fled on foot. The man started to run after them, but stopped after a few feet and called 911.
Lancaster County Wide Communications dispatched a description of the robbery suspects.
On the way to the call, Off. David Kaminski noticed two men matching the description running to the back of the Olive Garden restaurant and detained them.
The man and woman, whom police did not name, positively identified Howard and Harrison as the robbers, and Howard still had the cigarette lighter, Umstead said.
Police intensively searched the area, but did not find the handgun Harrison had pointed at the man.
Det. Donald Morant charged Howard and Harrison with robbery and criminal conspiracy before District Judge Mary Sponaugle.
They were committed to Lancaster County Prison, each in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Umstead said he couldn’t give a “one size fits all” recommendation about when victims should retrieve their own gun during an incident.
It depends on the situation and the individual, he said.
“In this incident, the victim was absolutely justified in taking the action that he did, and was able to successfully thwart the robbery without anyone getting hurt,” Umstead said. “Anyone in that situation has to realize, however, that there is obviously a risk involved in fighting back against an armed assailant, particularly one who has a gun pointed at you.”