Akilah Johnson, Andrew Tran and Juan C. Ortega, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale), June 29, 2007
Some are calling a former U.S. Marine a hero for shooting two men—killing one—during the botched robbery of a sandwich shop in Plantation. But the men’s friends and family want to know how he could gun them down and not be charged.
John Lovell had just finished dinner at about 11: 15 p.m. Wednesday when, Plantation police say, two men armed with guns rushed inside a Subway shop and demanded cash. After robbing the store, the men turned to Lovell. They wanted his money, police said.
But like his attackers, Lovell was armed.
The retired military man opened fire, shooting dead Donicio Arrindell, 22, of North Lauderdale, and critically injuring Fredrick Gadson, 21, of Fort Lauderdale.
Lovell, 71, of Plantation, has a valid concealed weapons permit and is not expected to be charged in the shooting, said police spokesman Detective Robert Rettig. Gadson, however, faces multiple felony charges that could include murder, he said. Under Florida law, anyone who commits a felony such as armed robbery resulting in a death can be held accountable for the capital offense.
Florida law gives people the right of “self-defense without the duty to retreat.” That means individuals can use deadly force virtually anywhere to prevent death or serious injury.
Lovell, a retired Pan-Am and Delta Airline pilot, has held a concealed weapons permit since September 1990. Three months earlier, Plantation police had arrested him for having a loaded .9 mm and three extra clips behind the driver’s seat of a Corvette without proper permits for the gun. The Broward State’s Attorney’s Office declined to file charges in that case.
According to a police statement, Arrindell ordered Lovell to hand over his wallet. He intentionally dropped it on the floor and refused to pick it up, saying he was afraid. That’s when Arrindell ordered him into the women’s restroom.
“The victim believed he would be executed and when he noticed [Arrindell] distracted . . . reached behind his back, removed his loaded .45 caliber handgun from his holster and fired seven rounds,” the statement said.
Arrindell was struck twice—once in the head and once in the stomach—and collapsed. Officers found him face down, wearing sunglasses and a bandanna, with a gun near his left hand. Gadson was hit in the chest and ran from the store. Police dogs found him in the hedges of a nearby office building and bank.
But Gadson’s grandmother, Rosa Jones, said: “He ain’t no hero. He is a murderer and God will serve justice.”
She and her husband, Ivory Jones, pastor of a Fort Lauderdale church, sat on their front porch in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday wondering how a man could shoot two people and not go to jail.
They said their grandson sometimes hung with the wrong crowd but never got into legal trouble. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he has no arrest record. They said Gadson, who never finished high school, got tired of low-wage jobs and was pursuing his GED.
Arrindell, friends said, found himself in a similar situation: no high school diploma and working odd jobs. So he went back to school. He was a man with past troubles, including a 2004 arrest for carrying a concealed weapon, but he was improving his life, they said. He recently bought a car and had a girlfriend.