Oklahoma store clerk in trouble after shooting at alleged shoplifter

OKLAHOMA CITY - A metro store clerk is in trouble with the law after allegedly shooting at thieves making a beer run inside his store. The clerk told News 4 he’s now paying the price for somebody else’s crime.

“I have to protect myself someway, somehow,” Vila Chanthavong said.

Vila Chanthavong works at Payless Cigarettes and Convenience Store near N.W. 10th and Council Rd. Something that happened inside the store now has him facing felony charges.

Police arrested him for allegedly shooting at two men who took off with stolen beer.

“I don’t like thieves,” Chanthavong said.

He told News 4 the thieves had a plan. A red pick-up pulled up to the drive-thru at the same time a man walked in the front door.

Chanthavong says he was focused on the vehicle’s order first when he noticed something over his shoulder.

“I saw a person just run off quickly past the register with two beers, two cases of an 18 pack,” Chanthavong said.

Chanthavong allegedly grabbed his gun, sprang from behind the counter, and began chasing the shoplifter down the street, all while firing five to six rounds.

That red pick-up from the drive-thru then swung around, allowing the thief to hop-in.

Police say Chanthavong fired more shots as they sped off.

“Yeah, well, they haven't come back,” Chanthavong said.

Chanthavong admitted to police and News 4 that he “keeps a pistol close to the cash register because he’s been robbed at gunpoint previously.”

However, as a convicted felon, he’s not legally allowed to have a gun. He was booked for that along with engaging in reckless conduct.

Now, he’s bonded out and is back at work, standing his ground.

“My shift is my store and is my responsibility,” Chanthavong said.

Chanthavong claims his store sees a fair share of crimes, and even displays a 'wall of shame' for past thieves.

Vila said he had the gun in the first place because he didn’t feel safe manning the store alone.

We asked him if he would do this again.

“Yes and no, but I know I have to follow the law, so I have to do it right,” Chanthavong said.

Vila tells News 4 he had a lawyer and they are planning to fight the charges in court.

The alleged thieves have not been caught.

As for the past crimes, Chanthavong has been convicted of fighting a police officer and assault and battery.

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