Back in January 2015, several days after the attempted robbery and shootout at the She’s a Pistol gun store in Shawnee, I wrote a post — not for this blog but someone else’s — asserting that everyone would have been better off if Jon Bieker, co-owner of the gun store, had not come out of his back office firing away.
Bieker ended up getting shot to death by one of four robbers — ironically a robber who lay paralyzed by a bullet but kept firing as he lay on the floor near the front door.
Now that the video of that horrifying incident has been made public — and other new information has come to light — it’s clear I was completely wrong. I should have resisted the urge to draw conclusions without knowing more about how things evolved.
If you haven’t seen this video, be sure to watch it; it is mesmerizing, as well as terribly frightening.
We, the viewers, see one of the robbers jumps onto the counter and strikes Becky Bieker, Jon’s wife, in the head, breaking her nose. She goes down and loses consciousness temporarily.
Within a second or two, Jon Bieker emerges from the back office, holding a handgun in his outstretched, right hand, apparently firing rounds…A key thing I learned from The Star’s story yesterday is that Bieker had a video monitor on his desk and apparently saw on the monitor what was unfolding out front. When he saw his wife being attacked, he sprang into action.
Bieker apparently wounded three of the four in the melee. Two of the wounded men and one not wounded got out the front door. But the fourth man, De’Anthony Wiley, whom Bieker had also wounded, lies out of camera view near the front door. In a dramatic sequence, we see Bieker start to circle around one display stand and then double back and go around another one, which offered a better angle to fire directly at Wiley. Unfortunately, it also gave Wiley a better angle to shoot at Bieker.
The last thing we see in the sequence where Bieker is firing is him falling forward and hitting the floor.
Jon Bieker was very brave, indeed. He wasted no time coming to his wife’s defense, and he almost managed to resolve the situation without getting shot himself. The Star speculated, from the video, that Bieker might have been trying to clear a jam in his weapon when he got shot.
Besides the 21-year-old Wiley, Hakeem Malik, 20, and Londro Patterson and Nicquan Midgyett, both 21, are charged with first-degree murder. All four are scheduled to appear at a hearing tomorrow in Johnson County District Court.
…Jon Bieker would have been alive today had he decided to wait it out in the back office. Instead, he bolted to his wife’s defense. It’s a damn shame his heroism cost him his life.
Here’s the kind of situation that pops up when a paper like The Star is making the transition to younger reporters.
In an online story about the Westport shootings the other day, reporter Katy Bergen, apparently in trying to tie in other shootings in the Westport area, mistakenly alluded to a previous shooting that had taken place in the 8700 block of East 63rd Street.
That allusion puzzled a couple of commenters, who noted that the East 63rd Street location was several miles away from Westport.
“One of the commenters, Jess Buck, wrote: “The reporter either does not know this city or is trying to scare people away from a good part of town with misleading information.”
Bergen was monitoring the comments and came back with this:
“Hi, Jess. As a new reporter, I’m certainly guilty of the former (not knowing the city). I was working with a data set that plotted the East 63rd Street address on a map close to Westport, and did not immediately realize the mistake. Thanks for pointing it out.”
The exchange wound up on a friendly note, with Jess Buck saying, “Katy Bergen, thanks for owning it and making the corrections.”
…A simple acknowledgment of error often goes a long way toward restoring credibility. I second Jess Buck’s hat tip to Katy Bergen. She handled that perfectly.
The episode also serves as a reminder to all other Star reporters that it pays to listen to your readers.