Man mistakenly shot at gas station: 'Our lives are more valuable than a bag of chips'

To say it was a close call would be putting it lightly. Tavarlis Durham is grateful to be alive and back home after a gas station worker shot him Tuesday night while taking aim at a man who stole a few bags of chips.

"So as I'm leaving out, my back (is) turned so I don't even see him fire it but I heard it go off," he said. "And when it went off I'm thinking it's the glass that chipped my skin until I looked at my chest and I saw a little hole on the side of my chest."

It was all caught on camera, you can see Durham keeling over after getting hit. He says now a .38 caliber hollow point is lodged in his liver.

"They hit me in my rib cage and they said it was in a severe spot," Durham said. "It could've hit one of my main arteries, it was close to my heart. 

"Even if a dude was stealing chips, that doesn't give a person the right to shoot at another person because he is stealing chips. I mean, our life is more valuable than a bag of chips."

The gas station closed up shop Thursday at the prompting of the coalition -- a local group of activists, clergy and concerned citizens.

Tuesday's shooting is the latest in a long line of incidents in which restaurant, gas station or party store employees attack black people for upsetting them.

Engjull Thaqi is serving a four-to-10-year prison sentence for shooting 23-year-old Eugene Lyons outside Motor City Coney Island on Detroit's east side last May.

Rami Ali Jaber is set to go to trial in August for shooting and killing 34-year-old Derrick Roberts after an argument at the Citgo gas station at Six Mile and Southfield.

"Through the years there have been unarmed black men and women disrespected and violated at coney islands, at liquor stores, at gas stations - over 30 years," said activist Teferi Brent.

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"They don't care, they don't care that's why. They don't care about us getting shot. We're black. So that's why they quick to shoot somebody," Durham said. "He stealing some chips out the store cost somebody they life? And you ain't even get the right person, you shot me."

A gas station worker who claims to have witnessed the shooting told FOX 2's Erika Erickson the man stealing potato chips threatened the employee in question, saying he would not make it to his car because there was a shooter waiting for him.

But to use deadly force one must honestly and reasonably believe that death or great bodily harm is imminent. Police Chief James Craig says in this case, it was not.

FOX 2 received a statement from the owner of the gas station which reads in part: "I am thankful first that the young man is improving, and that the shooter, who was in possession of a weapon against company policy and who was immediately fired, is in jail. We have been in this same location in the community for more than 30 years without incident and remain committed to Detroit and its residents. We are ready to work together to restore peace."