A Florida motorist who opened fire on a man defending his family during a dispute over a handicap parking space last week won’t face charges, the Pinella’s County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.
Michael Drejka, 47, has been cleared by authorities in the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton outside a Circle A Food store in Clearwater, Fla. The two got into a heated argument over proper parking etiquette that proved deadly for McGlockton, whose 5-year-old son witnessed the tragic incident.
According to Pinnella County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the shooting falls within Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which offers immunity to those who fear for their lives and use lethal force to defend themselves.
The incident “is within the bookends of stand your ground and within the bookends of force being justified,” Gualtieri told reporters Friday. “I’m not saying I agree with it, but I do not make that call.”
The confrontation between Drejka and McGlonkton unfolded after McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, pulled into a handicapped parking spot without the proper permit. Drejka confronted the young woman, scolding her about not parking in any of the other available spots, and the two proceeded to exchange words, according to surveillance video released by authorities.
McGlokton and his son were inside the convenience store at the time.
As the confrontation escalated, witnesses went in and alerted the clerk to the disturbance outside. That’s when McGlockton is seen running out of the store and confronting Drejka directly, slamming him to the ground. Seconds later, while still on the ground, Drejka pulls out his gun and shoots McGlockton in the chest.
The young father was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police said Drejka told deputies he was afraid he’d be attacked again and shot out of fear for his own safety, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Drejka owned the gun legally and had a valid concealed carry permit, authorities said.
McGlockton’s girlfriend was devastated by the news that her boyfriend’s killer wouldn’t be charged.
“It’s a wrongful death. It’s messed up,” Jacobs, 45, told the Tampa Bay Times through tears. “Markeis is a good man … He was just protecting us, you know? It hurts so bad.”
In a separate interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Jacobs said Drejka was the one who provoked the deadly confrontation.
“He wanted somebody to be angry at. He just wanted someone to fight him,” she said. “He was picking a fight. I’m just sitting, waiting for my family to come back to the car.”
The young woman said neither she nor McGlockton knew Drejka was armed when he ran out to defend his family.
“Everybody is panicking … my son is screaming, but it was too late,” Jacobs recalled. “It’s hard for a 4- or 5-year-old to witness what he saw. … It’s really tough for him. [Markeis] was a good man and all he was trying to do was protect his family. I just want justice.”
The State Attorney’s Office is now investigating the incident.