Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.
If I lived in Chicago, there’s a pretty good chance I’d be planning to move to Florida. That feels like it would be a smart decision.
It might possibly be the only smart decision Rakim Stephen Tate has made in all his 32 years.
One of the dumber ones: walking into a convenience store in the Florida panhandle, allegedly carrying a Benelli shotgun and intending to commit armed robbery.
(I’m saying “allegedly” here because, one, Tate is innocent until proven guilty in this country, and two, because our lawyers would insist. But you can watch the video below and decide for yourself what you think Tate may or may not be guilty of.)
According to this Facebook post from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, posted under the headline “Robbery Attempt,” the event took place on Sept. 9. Escambia County is in far-western Florida, on the Gulf Coast and bordering Alabama.
According to the post, “Unbeknownst to the ‘would-be’ robber, a store employee had watched him arm himself before entering the store. This employee headed to the backroom to arm himself (with his own personal gun).”
The employee was off-camera for most of the subsequent encounter, but here’s how the sheriff’s office described it:
“Seconds later, when he sees the employee return, he freezes…oh boy. The employee returned to the counter holding his own gun toward the befuddled attempted robber. He then fumbles for words, resorting to meaningless babble about being from Chicago. Words seem to fail you when your felony attempt is thwarted by lawful and righteous force. Thankfully, he decides that it is not the time for a robbery, and he slowly exits the store.”
Tate was arrested six days later in Santa Rosa County, just to the east of Escambia County. Officers said they recovered the shotgun as well and charged Tate with “openly carrying a prohibited weapon and attempted robbery with a firearm.”
Whoever wrote the Facebook post then concluded it with a statement that leads me to believe he or she enjoys the occasional television cop show.
“You’re not in Chicago anymore; you’re under arrest.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
If Tate really does hail from Chicago, he may be used to carrying around a shotgun with impunity. Illinois has some pretty serious gun control laws, but as they do everywhere else, those laws primarily prevent law-abiding citizens from carrying firearms for self-defense. Criminals are, definitionally, less likely to abide by them.
Florida, however, is a slightly different matter.
However, and I know this will come as a shock to some readers, it appears that Tate, despite his claim to be “from Chicago” — and his choice of clothing, which certainly looked more appropriate for the Windy City than Pensacola in early September, when the average high is a balmy 88 degrees — might not have been telling the entire truth about his whereabouts.
Booking records show that Tate was also arrested 15 months earlier for allegedly firing a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon (presumably not a Benelli shotgun) and possession of marijuana. (He bonded out of that one after two days with a $4,500 bond; this time around, he’s still in custody 10 days later — maybe because this time he’s looking at a $100,000 bond.)
Regardless of where he’s slept the last few nights — specifically, the Escambia County Corrections Central Booking and Detention Facility — his given address is the same on both his current charges and his prior arrest. In other words, he might be from Chicago, but if so, he apparently moved to Florida sometime last year, if not earlier.
Probably the smartest decision he ever made.
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