Armed driver scares off carjackers in Midlothian parking lot

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A North Texas man is sharing a remarkable story of how he defended himself with a handgun over the weekend.

Mike Panther was waiting for his wife in his car outside a Brookshire's in Midlothian on Saturday. That's when police say two people got in his car. One of them threatened to shoot him in the head.

The couple hopes it serves as a lesson for people to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

“I’m a gun owner. I’m an NRA member. I’m a TSRA member,” Panther said. “I’ve waited for this day to happen. And even though I've waited for it to happen hoping it would never happen, it happened.”

Panther was at the Brookshire's in Midlothian and was waiting in the car in the parking lot while his wife went inside. That's when he saw two people, later identified by police as 21-year-old Caleb Jefferson and 17-year-old Niyah Williams, approach. At first, Panther thought Jefferson might have been someone he knew.

“He actually said, ‘Man, I can't believe you're up here. I haven't seen you in so long. What are you doing?’” he recalled.

Panther says that's when Jefferson quickly got in the passenger seat. And that's when the conversation took a turn.

“He comes up and tells me, ‘I've got a gun. I'll blow your head off, Panther recalled. “I said, Whoa, dude.' And he said, 'the next words out of your mouth I'm going to send you to heaven.’ At that point, it was almost like second nature to me.

Panther, an experienced gun owner and concealed carry permit holder, reached for a bag and pulled out his 40 caliber handgun and pointed it at Jefferson.

Panther then had an answer for the remark about going to heaven.

“I said, ‘well, let's both go together.’”

Both suspects got out of the car. Panther kept his gun trained on them until they ran into the store. Shortly after, Midlothian police arrived and eventually took both of the suspects in custody after a struggle.                                     

While police say Jefferson had motioned like he had a gun, it turned out to be just his fingers under his shirt.

“At no point in that automobile did I want to shoot that young man,” Panther said. “I think if my brain would have told me that is a handgun, I'm afraid that young man would be dead right now. And I'm just so thankful that it did not happen that way.”

And while few things shake Panther, he can't help it when talking about his wife who walked out of the store in the middle of the confrontation. While he hates that what unfolded happened at all, he's glad they chose to mess with him.

“They could have gotten into an automobile with somebody other than me that they would have taken. Left this parking lot. We may have never seen them again,” he said.

Panther believes the suspects might have been trying to carjack him. Officially, both are charged with aggravated robbery and resisting arrest.