An Ohio county prosecutor warned thieves they should “expect to be shot” when targeting retail stores after indicting a smoke shop manager charged in connection to the fatal shooting of a teenager during an attempted robbery in the Cincinnati area earlier this year.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Melissa Powers filed charges on Tuesday against Tony Thacker, manager of VIP Smoke Shop in Delhi Township, for the Oct. 20 shooting, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office. A grand jury indicted him on eight counts, including five felonious assault charges, tampering with evidence and two counts of having weapons under disability as he was not permitted to possess a firearm due to a felony juvenile adjudication.
Thacker, 29, who lived in the back of the smoke shop, emerged from the area just after 1 a.m. on Oct. 20 with a firearm and allegedly shot at a number of suspects who broke into the store by throwing rocks through the windows to gain entry. He fired off multiple shots at the would-be robbers, including 16-year-old Travis Johnson, who was fatally wounded while trying to flee the scene in a stolen vehicle, according to the news release.
“There is simply no justification for shooting at someone as they are running away,” Powers said. “However, I want to make perfectly clear — these retail thefts will not be tolerated. If you try to rob a store, you should expect to be shot.”
The prosecutor’s office said Thacker then ran to the front of the store and continued to shoot through the front door at the remaining suspects, including 19-year-old Amontae Carter, as he was seated in the back of one of the stolen cars.
“People have the right to stand their ground and protect themselves if somebody breaks into your home or your business,” Delhi Township Police Chief Jeff Braun told Fox19 Now. “But as far as when somebody is fleeing away from you — in this case driving away — it’s a little hard to say that you’re obviously protecting yourself on the driving away.”
The prosecutor’s office indicted Carter for two counts of murder, two counts of burglary, and one count of possession of criminal tools. He faces a maximum possible sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years if convicted of all charges.
Following the chaotic scene, the prosecutor’s office said Thacker and his 21-year-old brother Malachi attempted to disable the store’s security system and remove shell casings.
The younger Thacker was indicted for two counts of tampering with evidence.
According to local media, two people called 911 to report the shooting. The first caller reported a disturbance, saying she could hear a woman screaming. The other caller identified himself as the shop owner.
“Do you know who shot him?” the 911 operator asked.
“My worker,” the caller said. “He was protecting himself, the guy broke in the store.”
Authorities also arrested three teenagers — two males, 15 and 17 years old, and a 16-year-old female — days after the incident after receiving an anonymous tip, according to reports.
All three face murder and burglary charges, although they were reportedly not involved in Johnson’s death. The 16-year-old female and 17-year-old also face stolen property charges.
Prosecutors said the three juvenile suspects were previously charged and awaiting transfer from juvenile court.
Johnson’s 20-year-old brother, Isiah, was reportedly later charged with felonious assault for allegedly shooting a woman in her twenties at a vigil held for his sibling.
Fox News Digital reached out to Powers’ office but did not immediately receive a response.