MIAMI (CBS4) – “It was either me or him.”
That’s how a survey company owner summed up his decision to open fire on armed robbers Monday in Liberty City.
Eddie Martinez, a husband and father of four daughters, was set upon by a gunman as he and two employees of his company, Zurwelle-Whittaker, were conducting a survey for a housing project on Northwest 50th Street.
“He drew his gun on me and when he pointed it at me, I had to defend myself. I was in fear for my life,” Martinez, 35, told CBS4′s Gary Nelson. “I pulled my firearm and I pointed it at him and I started firing.”
Martinez said the robber had hopped out of a car in the middle of the street with two accomplices remaining in the car. Martinez said the bandit was stealing some of his expensive survey equipment, and when he yelled at him to put it down, the thief whirled around, pointing a gun.
Martinez pulled his own Beretta semi-automatic pistol and unloaded toward the robber, who was standing by the rear of the car. The surveyor fired at least 14 rounds, most of which struck the car, a dark Nissan.
One shot hit the getaway driver, a grazing wound near the man’s neck. Martinez said he didn’t stop firing until the robber pointing the gun at him lowered the weapon and ran. Martinez said he couldn’t be certain whether the gunman had fired any shots.
Martinez said he was taught to handle a firearm by his father, an instructor for the U.S. Army’s elite Green Berets.
“I believe in my second amendment rights. I’m a citizen, and I have to defend my family and myself if I’m ever assaulted or my life is put in danger,” he said. “The moment I saw the gun, the only thing I could think of was my wife, my kids, my family, and how I had to stay around for them.”
Martinez said he was careful to make sure only the robbers and their car were in his line of fire.
“I was not going to allow them to take my livelihood away from me, and especially not point a gun at me and try to take my life away.”
Martinez said he is rarely without his gun.
“Anywhere it is legal to carry, I carry it with me,” he said. Martinez said the robbers that targeted him were “bad seeds” in a neighborhood of largely good people.
“Some of the people in the neighborhood approached me and told me I was right to do what I did,” he said. “They were asking me if I was okay.”
Martinez said when police took him to the hospital to positively identify the suspect he had wounded, the young man was “laughing and joking” as if the robbery and shooting was “just another stripe” he had earned on the street.
The surveyor said he hopes the robbers learned something Monday.
“Those guys, I hope they take from this situation that crime doesn’t pay, and good people won’t take it laying down,” Martinez said.
While two of the robbers remain on the loose, Martinez said he is “not worried” about them targeting him for payback. Police took his gun for ballistics testing, but he expects to get it back. In the interim, he has a backup pistol.