Harry James McCullough took it personally. The former security guard was standing at a Walgreens checkout counter when he saw two masked men, one with a sawed-off shotgun, enter the store. Marquail Thomas, 18, pointed the shotgun at customers and yelled, “Nobody (expletive) move!''
“There's no doubt in my mind what they were going to do,” McCullough said Thursday. “There was no time to react. You only have one chance.”
McCullough pulled out a pistol and shot Thomas four times. Thomas collapsed outside the store and died later at a hospital.
McCullough chased down the second masked man, whom Omaha police have identified as Angelo Douglas, 17, and held him until officers arrived. Jauvier Perkins, 15, who police said was the getaway driver, was arrested Wednesday.
Prosecutors said all three are known gang members.
McCullough said he had no idea whom he was dealing with.
“I took it personal,” he said. “I was the only one in that situation that could have made it any better, so I took action.”
McCullough said he never expected something like this to happen at his neighborhood drugstore, which he visits at least once a month to pick up a prescription for migraine headaches.
“I didn't have time to be scared,” he said. “It happened so quickly. You have to swell up and be bigger than your surroundings. If you portray yourself as big as a bear, you are a bear.”
McCullough will not be charged in the Monday night shooting, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has said. McCullough was cited by police for carrying a concealed weapon. His attorney, James Martin Davis, said he will seek to have the ticket dismissed.
McCullough said he has had firearms training, shoots guns competitively and has had security jobs.
“I carry my gun everywhere I go. It's like my wallet,” he said. “It's a personal protection and a safety thing.”
He has a valid permit to carry a gun in plain view, typically in a holster. Police said he pulled the pistol from his waistband.
McCullough said he never applied for a state permit to carry a concealed weapon because it cost “extra money” and he felt that Omaha's carry permit was “sufficient.”
It's been a tough week for Harry James McCullough III, an Omaha native. He said he's shaky and hasn't been able to eat or sleep much, taking only catnaps. He said the thought of retaliation is “in the back of my mind,” so he doesn't stay at one place for a long period of time.
However, he said, he isn't going to change his life because of fears about what might happen. He plans to continue to carry a gun if he isn't convicted of a concealed weapons violation.
“I'm not going to sit in a corner and hide,” he said. “I'm going to live my life.”
McCullough appeared stoic and reserved during a nearly 30-minute press conference Thursday.
He said he has been interested in weapons since he was a child.
McCullough shot Thomas with a .40-caliber pistol. He said that the weapon can hold 15 rounds and that he remembers shooting four times Monday night.
The shotgun Thomas was carrying was unloaded.
Kleine said McCullough fired eight rounds, hitting Thomas four times.
Thomas was shot once in the right hand, once in the left arm, once in the middle of the chest and once in the lower back. Kleine said the wound to the back doesn't mean that McCullough shot Thomas as he was running away. He said the shots could have spun Thomas around.
Kleine said a bullet from the pistol was found inside the barrel of the shotgun, indicating that Thomas was aiming his gun at McCullough.
McCullough said he feels for Thomas' family, calling the shooting “unfortunate.'' But he felt he had to act.
“To me, he's just a robber in a mask,” he said. “I think the city has had enough of the crime.”
Video account of the shooting by Harry J. McCullough.