Hollywood man haunted by fatal shooting of would-be robber
Hollywood man haunted by fatal shooting of would-be robber
By Jamie Malernee
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted October 15 2006
His voice shakes. He can't work, he says. Can't concentrate. He's 260 pounds of tough guy, but tears fall as he relives the moment he killed a man.
It's been a week since police say Christopher Welker, 26, caught two suspected robbers outside his Hollywood home, trying to steal the new chrome rims off his truck in the middle of the night. During a scuffle for one suspect's gun, Welker shot one dead and wounded the other.
Police agree Welker acted in self-defense. But that doesn't mean he hasn't paid a price. He says his girlfriend won't go inside the house, so they're moving. And even though he is thankful he and his family are safe, Welker says he'd give almost anything to turn back the clock.
"I wish I could go back and just shoot them both in the leg, so they could stand for their crime. I don't wish to take anybody's life," he said, fighting tears. "I wish I had gone out later, and they could have taken the truck. The truck is replaceable. The kid was 22 years old."
"The kid," the one killed in the robbery, was Ronald Magano. Welker said he lived only two blocks away, that he'd seen him around the neighborhood, but didn't know him. Both Magano and the other man police say was involved, Jason Robert Melendez, 23, also of Hollywood, had long criminal histories, records show.
Welker said he knew none of that when he and his girlfriend heard a noise outside their home in a Hollywood neighborhood east of Interstate 95 at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday. Welker thought it might just be his neighbor, but went to check.
Outside, he found a strange car. Through the windshield, he saw two men, one who quickly pulled a ski mask over his face. The next moment, Welker recalls, the second man was out of the car, putting the barrel of a gun to his neck.
"The one guy, he was real calm. He said, `OK, let's do this.' ... They said they wanted to go inside the house and `clear it out' ... get the keys," Welker recalled.
Not long ago, a family member of Welker's was robbed -- and almost raped in the process, he said. At the moment Welker had a gun to his throat, Welker's longtime girlfriend and 17-month-old daughter were inside his house.
"I'm thinking, `These guys are not coming inside my house. I'd rather be dead.'"
Welker grabbed the barrel of the revolver and two shots went off, he said. Soon, all three struggled for the gun -- the smaller man in front of Welker, the taller one behind.
Pop-pop! It went off again. The man in front of Welker fell to the ground. The taller one kept struggling. As they wrestled, Welker pulled the trigger again. Pop-pop!
"There ain't no more bullets!" Welker said the thief cried.
The thief forced him against the vehicle, he said. Welker pistol-whipped him in the head. The thief grabbed the gun and took off down the street.
"He's screaming, `I'll be back! You're going to get yours!'" Welker said.
Soon, police arrived. Welker's girlfriend had called 911. Authorities followed a trail of blood from the house, found Melendez and arrested him. He'd been shot in the leg and bitten on his arm. A Hollywood homeowner had reported the gun stolen earlier this year, police said. Melendez faces multiple charges, including felony murder, armed robbery and possession of firearm by a convicted felon.
Welker, who lays flooring for a living, said he thought he was going to end up in handcuffs, too. Having previously been arrested on drug charges, Welker said he thought the cops would assume the worst.
"I have a record and when it first happened, I thought I was going to jail," he said. "I mean, I just killed somebody."
Police, however, have sided with Welker, calling it self-defense. They will forward the case to the state Attorney's Office in several weeks, where the final decision will be made. Sometimes, prosecutors simply choose not to file charges. Sometimes, they give it to a grand jury to decide. Welker's case is the third this year in which a Broward County resident shot and killed a burglar or robber on his property.
"As far as we are concerned, it was a justified shooting. He was protecting himself, his property, his kid," said Capt. Tony Rode of the Hollywood Police Department. "It would be very, very unusual if this victim was charged."
Rode added, however, that Welker's reaction to the shooting isn't unusual. The department has victim's advocates and a chaplain who can offer counseling. Welker said he has reached out for help.
"Sometimes there are emotional scars afterward," Rode acknowledged. "Whether it happens in a car accident or a struggle over a gun, you've taken somebody's life. These type of traumatic incidents affect different people in different ways."
Some people have congratulated Welker, telling him he gave the two men what they deserved. But Welker said he feels conflicted, not courageous. He's worried about reprisals. And while he still has his truck rims and his family, he has lost something else.
"Thank God [my baby girl] is OK. I just hope nobody ever brings it up to her," Welker said. "I don't want to have to explain ..."
Staff Writer Brian Haas and Staff Researcher William Lucy contributed to this report.
It is sad it had to happen and It is hard to deal with taking a life but sometimes is just has to be and you learn to live with it.
As for me I believe for this to have made it into the news he may very well have been "compensated" by the Liberals to say these things too( Im not saying he doesnt feel that way just how its got into the news)
Welcome to the real world Mr.Welker!
I'm a fairly sensitive guy, and I'd hate to kill somebody, but if I'd of killed the fellow who attacked my family, it would have felt like I had just dispatched a rabid dog.
After we were attacked, friends and neighbors asked us if we were going to move. We said, what for? This kind of thing can and does happen any and everywhere!
Watch the news and notice how many people that are interviewed after something heinous just happened in their neighborhood, they will say something simular to; "this kind of thing never happens around here"... Yeah well, it just did lady/mister! They are freaked out because they realise that it could have just as easily of been them!
Most people just are not mentally prepared for bad crap to happen, the criminal is, and that is their advantage...
This guy should be thanking God it wasn't him! Sounds like he was very very lucky, and is now very very confused...
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