A gunman who shot and killed a father in a parking space dispute is currently free under Florida’s “stand your ground law.” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that 47-year-old Michael Drejka will not be arrested for gunning down 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton at a convenience store in Clearwater, Fla. last Thursday (July 19) following an argument that turned physical when the victim shoved the gunman for “harassing” his girlfriend.
Authorities from the sheriff’s office are investigating the shooting, but expressed no intent to charge Drejka. “He told deputies that he had to shoot to defend himself,” Gualtieri said at a press conference. “Those are the facts and that’s the law. No matter how you slice it or dice it that was a violent push to the ground.”
The case will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for a final decision.
According to a report from the Pinella Country Sherrif’s Office, Drejka approached the victim’s 24-year-old girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, outside of the Circle A Food Store and began arguing with her for parking in a handicapped space without a permit. Jacobs, who was in the car with her infant and 3-year-old child with McGlockton, claims Drejka was looking for a fight.
“He wanted somebody to be angry at,” she told Good Morning America Monday (July 23). “He just wanted someone to fight him. He was picking a fight. I’m just sitting, waiting for my family to come back to the car.”
Drejka said that Jacobs began “yelling” at her in the parking lot. A witnesses walked inside the store and informed a store clerk of the argument just as McGlockton went outside to defend his girlfriend. In surveillance footage from the incident, McGlockton appears to shove Drejka to the ground. Drejka pulls out a gun, while still on the ground, and fires a single shot into McGlockton’s chest. McGlockton then stumbles back inside the convenience store before collapsing in front of his 5-year-old son.
McGlockton was pronounced dead at Morton Plant Hospital, 30 minutes after the shooting. “He was a good man and all he was trying to do was protect his family,” Jacobs said. “I just want justice. I need something to be done because this is not right.”
Drejka had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He was cooperative when deputies made it to the scene, and told authorities that he placed his firearm inside his Toyota Rav 4 before they arrived. He also has a history of provoking parking lot disputes, the store’s owner said.
One of the store’s frequent customers said that Drejka called him racial slurs and threatened to kill him over a parking space.
The parking lot shooting is eerily similar to the death of Trayvon Martin, arguably Florida’s most famous case to involve the stand your ground law. In 2012, George Zimmerman, a then 28-year-old licensed gun owner, used “stand your ground” in his initial defense for killing 17-year-old Martin. The Florida statute gives a person “who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be” the legal right to stand his or her ground, even if it means using deadly force.
Prior to killing Martin, Zimmerman called 911 on the 17-year-old high school student who was walking home from a convenience store in a Florida suburb where his father lived. Despite being instructed to remain in his car, Zimmerman defied the emergency operator and confronted Martin, provoking a confrontation that turned fatal. He was later acquitted of second-degree murder charges in Martin’s death.
See more on the shooting of McGlockton in the video below.