June 11, 2013
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Self-defense claim expected in parking lot gunshot case
BRENTWOOD — A man charged with firing a handgun in the parking lot of a Seabrook restaurant and lounge is claiming he was warning off two people he believed wanted to harm him — including one holding a metal pipe.
Brian Croall, 45, of Hollywood, Calif., wants a judge to allow him to use a self-defense claim when he goes on trial for felony reckless conduct in Rockingham County Superior Court.
Prosecutors argued in court papers that Croall fired a shot into the air on Nov. 20 because no one at the Chop Shop restaurant seemed concerned that his car radio had been stolen. Croall is also charged with carrying a .25-caliber handgun concealed in his pocket without a license, indictments say.
“He advised the police that his car radio was stolen and when nobody was helping him … he fired a shot into the air,” Assistant County Attorney Howard Helrich wrote.
Seabrook police were initially called to the scene around 1:30 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 20 for a report of the theft. Soon after, they received a report about a shot being fired.
It turned out that nobody had stolen the car radio from the car Croall was driving that night.
He looked inside the wrong car after leaving the restaurant, according to police.
Croall was arrested outside of the business at 920 Lafayette Road, according to police.
Defense lawyer Stephen Jeffco wrote that when Croall got outside the restaurant, “he was confronted by two men in the parking lot,” and one of them was carrying a metal pipe.
Jeffco is arguing that Croall believed his was in imminent danger and fired off a round into the air to prevent the men from beating him.
State law allows for people to brandish a firearm or use “other means of self-defense” to warn away someone making a threat, according to Jeffco.
Prosecutors are challenging Croall’s account, saying it’s inconsistent with witnesses interviewed on the scene and his own statement to police that night.
The decision will ultimately be left to a judge.
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