An attorney for Citywide Protection Services whose employee is accused of fatally shooting 60-year-old Jiansheng Chen while playing Pokémon Go said the guard’s actions were in self-defense after the elderly man tried to run him down with his minivan.
Chen was gunned down after an argument broke out between him and the security guard outside of a clubhouse in the River Walk neighborhood of Chesapeake, Virginia.
According to a Monday statement by attorney Andrew Sacks, the employee “was required to discharge his firearm in order to save his life while protecting a private community as a private security guard.”
Sacks said that around 11 p.m. on January 26, a person related or close to Chen returned to the scene, which was closed off, reported NBC News.
One of the Citywide officers escorted that individual back to their home and was told they were not allowed to trespass after hours.
When Chen came back to the neighborhood in a blue van a short time later, the same officer tried to approach him and ask why he was in the area.
“Rather than stop, we are advised that the driver of the van, Individual A, directed the vehicle towards the officer who attempted to get out of the way and requested that the driver stop,” Sacks said in the statement.
That’s when the security guard pulled out his weapon.
“Ultimately, faced with a situation in which he could not safely escape the oncoming van headed straight for him, the security guard, out of total necessity, and in reasonable fear for his life and safety, fired in an effort to stop and repel the threat to his life and safety,” said Sacks.
Greg Sandler, an attorney for Chen’s family, said Chen had just dropped off his sister-in-law at home then left in his van around 10:30 p.m. to go out and play Pokémon Go, a smartphone game he enjoyed as a way to bond with his grandchildren.
Chen’s brother went out to look for the 60-year-old grandfather, and stumbled upon the police scene with the van shot several times.
“The information that we have seen at the van and learned from a couple of people who either saw or heard various parts of this indicated that the security person was standing in front of the van and fired somewhere between five and 10 shots directly through the driver’s front windshield of the van,” said Sandler. “Mr. Chen was killed instantly.”
The River Walk Community Association said in a statement that the neighborhood only hires “unarmed roving patrol services.”
But Sacks said on Monday that Citywide was a private security company licensed by the state of Virginia to allow armed services.
The investigation into the deadly incident is ongoing, but Citywide has sent their condolences to the family through Sack’s statement.
“If what I have represented to you in this statement turns out to be the facts, then it isn’t even a close question that this was a justifiable shooting,” Sacks said at the press conference. “A tragic one, a very sad one, but we live in a country where we have a right to defend ourselves and our lives and our persons when we are threatened with death or imminent bodily harm. And that’s what our investigation indicates is the case here.”
A vigil was held Sunday night in River Walk, where dozens gathered to show support for the Chen family.
“Everybody in the Chinese community is very sad,” vigil attendee and Virginia Beach resident, Yuzhu Zheng, told The Virginian-Pilot. “They hope they can get fair justice.”
Chesapeake police said no charges have been filed at this time.