It took no more than 10 seconds for a would-be robbery to go terribly wrong. Or wonderfully right, when you consider the point of view of Gilbert Dorland, owner of Western Jewelry and Coin in West Seattle.
Two armed men rushed into the 500-ft. store, which specializes in antique watches, custom jewelry, and repairs, on the afternoon of Feb. 20, the lower portion of their faces covered by bandanas. Little did they know that Dorland’s store contains six guns, including a Smith & Wesson 22-caliber semi-automatic handgun kept by his workbench where he was drilling some amber at the time.
Dorland, 42, immediately grabbed the gun and shot first, hitting one robber in the chest.
“His eyes went from rage to ‘Oh, no! We just came into a wasp’s nest!’ He was hit with a 22lr hollow point [bullet],” Dorland told JCK. “I don’t think I was ever shaken. It happened so fast. The two ran in with guns straight out pointed at me and Jim [Rogers, Dorland’s employee]. He said, ‘Don’t move!’ By the time ‘move’ came out of his mouth, I shot him in the chest. I saw in his eyes retreat so I refrained from any more shots. They backed out of the shop as fast as they entered.”
He continued, “They were lucky I wasn’t at my desk. I have a 44 Magnum and a 17-shot 9mm. Angels were definitely with us that day and the split-second response halted what could have been a grave encounter for both of us.”
Dorland said that after the would-be robbers fled, he slowly left his workbench and went outside to see where they went and if he actually did shoot the person.
“I was looking out to see if I had any broken glass,” he said. “I saw them driving away. Police came about five minutes later, and not long after that they received a report that a gunshot victim was dumped out at a hospital with a bullet in his chest.”
Media reports state that a Jeep Cherokee, similar to the one driven by the would-be robbers, dropped off a wounded man at Harborview Medical Center.
The injured man was identified as Brandin Thomas, 19, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Thomas was charged with first-degree attempted robbery and was booked into the King County Jail with bail set at $100,000. An arraignment is set for March 3. His accomplice, who was reportedly carrying a gun in each hand, still is at large.
Dorland was not charged in the incident. The jeweler has three cameras inside the store and one outside, so as he said “They have good pictures.”
Dorland said one of his main concerns was his employee, who is in poor health. “I had to make a judgment call,” he said. “The guy who works with me was not in good health. If they roughed him up or shot him, he could have died. I could deal with getting shot, but not a friend.”
Dorland has been in the jewelry business for 22 years, 10 years at his current location just outside of Seattle, which he describes as “a neat little community with a lot of little trendy-type mom-and-pop stores.”
He also is a resident of the neighborhood who is known for doing free jewelry repairs for people at a neighboring nursing home, and is involved with a local church and other charities. He is one of four jewelers in the neighborhood and has a good relationship with all of them, he said. The other jewelers contacted Dorland and offered their support.
While Dorland had been involved with some grab-and-runs and fraud attempts (which is why he has the cameras), this was his first armed robbery.
“I always feared what would happen if I was rushed in my shop,” he said. “Now I know.”