A former Waterbury firefighter shot a would-be robber dead in a Waterbury, Connecticut cafe with customers inside early Saturday morning, police said.
The Connecticut Citizens Defense League said the incident at Cafe Azzurri at 500 Bank Street in Waterbury seems to be a case where innocent lives were protected by a legally armed customer. That customer was Howard Williams, 53, a former Waterbury firefighter and bar owner.
Police said they received reports of gunfire the cafe around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and found a man with at least one gunshot wound at the cafe and pronounced him dead at the scene.
On Monday, police identified him as Raphael Dillard, 26.
Witnesses told police Dillard had come into the café, wielding a gun, and tried to steal from the business and its customers, police said.
However, a patron, Williams, who was carrying a legally registered handgun confronted him and shot at least once, killing Dillard, according to police. No one else was injured.
"I'm speechless. I don't know what to say," Mitchel Ribeiro, of Norwalk, said.
In a statement-- Scott Wilson, the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, addressed the dead suspect saying, "Thankfully we do not have to find out what harm he might have inflicted on people at this establishment or with future criminal acts."
Wilson also said self-defense shootings are on the rise in Connecticut and around the country and added, "Hopefully violent criminals who threaten people and cause harm will start acting differently."
Workers and customers gathered at Cafe Azzurri Monday still shaken by the deadly confrontation that unfolded inside early Saturday morning. Workers declined to talk about the incident.
"I don't got nothing to say. I don't got nothing to say," one employee said to NBC Connecticut.
At the business, even customers who weren't there for the shooting had little to say about it.
"There's a kid dead. I'm not really relieved about anything you know, if you want to know the truth," one customer told NBC Connecticut.
Police seized Williams' handgun. They said he is cooperating with authorities. Waterbury police haven't filed charges against him.
They are investigating the case as a homicide and said they will continue to investigate the shooting in collaboration with the office of the Waterbury state's attorney.