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Woman arrested for accidentally shooting Ace Hardware employee in attempt to stop shoplifter

The victim is expected to be OK, but the incident has raised questions about gun ownership safety.

PHOENIX — Questions about responsible gun ownership have surfaced after a woman allegedly accidentally shot an Ace Hardware employee who was trying to stop a shoplifter running from the Phoenix store on Saturday. 

Police responded to the scene near 32nd Street and Indian School Road after receiving a shots fired call around 9:15 a.m. 

Once officers arrived, they spotted the shooter, later identified as 45-year old Nya Reyes, who allegedly told them she meant to hit the shoplifter but ended up hitting the employee chasing after them.

The victim was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after taking a bullet to the left knee. Reyes was arrested and booked for aggravated assault and discharging a firearm within city limits.

Police expert and former assistant police chief Andy Anderson provided insight about gun ownership and what to do if civilians find themselves in similar situations.

"Many times, you're better off just being a good witness," he said. 

"Anytime you use a weapon out there on the street, you may find yourself in a criminal court, or you may find yourself in a civil court and if you don't have insurance to cover your actions you could ruin your entire life financially by getting involved in a situation like that."

We also spoke to a new gun owner, Diana Gevelhoff, about the situation. She explained how owning a gun can empower people, but it comes with heavy responsibilities. 

While she doesn't know the exact details of what happened, she insists calling 911 is always the best option in any criminal situation and Anderson agrees.

"I would still call 911. It's not my position or I don't have enough, and I don't think anyone as a citizen could have enough training, to step in to a situation like that," Gevelhoff said.

Reyes was released on a $25,000 bond. She is expected to appear in court next on Feb. 8.

The alleged shoplifter has not yet been identified by police. If you know anything about this crime, you're asked to call police with that information at (602) 262-6151.

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