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YOUNGSTOWN Intruder at pizza shop is injured



Published: Mon, September 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The store owner says he would've been shot but he was 'an eighth of a second quicker' than the intruder.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A pizza shop owner shot a man who was raising a gun at him because, he said, "it was him or me."

James Taaffe, owner of Oven Fresh Pizza at 2609 South Ave., said he saw a man with a bandana covering his face walk in front of the store window about 10 p.m. Saturday. When the man entered the store, Taaffe saw that he was carrying a handgun at his side.

When Taaffe reached for his own handgun near the cash register, the other man raised his gun, Taaffe said. He said he thinks the other man knew he was reaching for a gun and intended to shoot him.

"I happened to be an eighth of a second quicker," he said.

After firing a shot, Taaffe ducked behind the counter. He then peeked through a crack and watched as the man dropped his gun and walked out the door.

"There was no way I'm going to let this kid kill me," Taaffe said.

Police found a gun on the floor of the store and a trail of blood leading out to the sidewalk.

Shooting victim: A short time after the shooting, a 24-year-old Forest Avenue man who was bleeding walked into the emergency room entrance of St. Elizabeth Medical Center and collapsed.

He had been shot in the hand and abdomen. Police said he is a suspect in the attempted robbery at the pizza shop.

He told police that he didn't know who shot him or where it happened. He also said he didn't know the people who dropped him off at the hospital. He was in critical condition Sunday.

Happy with location: Taaffe said he has a gun at the shop just to be safe. He said he has never had a problem in the year that he has had the pizza shop.

"Say what you want about the South Side; our customers are great. Everything is fine," he said.

He said he likes the neighborhood and has no plans to move the business.

"I'm hoping and praying to God that it was a fluke thing," he said.




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