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Clerk's firearm kills gun customer
Clerk's firearm kills gun customer
Friday, November 04, 2005
CAROL ROBINSON
News staff writer

A single mother of two was shot to death in an apparent accident at a Birmingham pawn shop while shopping for a gun.

Alethia Brewster, 24, had recently worried about her safety, and the safety of her 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. Unsavory men, she told her friends, often gathered near her East Lake home, and some had even knocked on the door.

Brewster wanted to put her fears to rest. Instead, she died at the counter of JoJo's Gun & Pawn on Crestwood Boulevard on Wednesday when a store employee was showing her a weapon.

Authorities said Brewster asked to see the gun from an employee's holster. As the clerk handed it to her, the weapon fired. The bullet bore through Brewster's left hand, and then struck her in the chest.

"I'm very angry. Angry and sad," her tearful mother, Frances Brewster, said Thursday. "It wouldn't be possible for me to think something like this could happen."

The pawn shop, which has a marquee out front that advertises, "Guns: Cheaper than a tank of gas," was closed Thursday. A purple floral wreath with black ribbon hung on the front door, and a spray-painted poster in the window said business would resume today.

Police are investigating the shooting, but said it likely will be ruled accidental. Efforts to reach the store owners for comment were unsuccessful.

Brewster's parents sat side by side on the couch Thursday, trying to absorb the shock of her death. A steady stream of friends stopped by their Airport Hills home to console them. They signed a spiral notebook on the coffee table to later remind a numb Frances Brewster that they had been there.

"It shouldn't have never happened the way it did," she said. "I don't want nobody to go through what I am right now."

Family members said Brewster finished work at T-Mobile inside the Riverchase Galleria Wednesday afternoon and, on her way home to get her children, stopped by the pawn shop with a friend to look at a gun.

"Things were beginning to happen" around her home, said her father, William Mahan. "She wanted to get some protection and, with her children there, she didn't want to take a chance. She said she'd rather have a gun and not need it than to need it and not have it."

Her friends told Brewster's parents that she'd been considering the purchase for months. Frances Brewster said details were sketchy on the shooting, but said she was told it happened quickly. "The gun went off and when it did, she hit the floor."

She said paramedics rushed her daughter to the hospital, but said she was dead when she left the pawn shop.


Loved to write poems:


Brewster, who finished the 11th grade at Huffman High School, was determined to do her own thing. She was a Christian, her mother said, and loved to write poems. She was living on her own and supporting the children, her parents said.

In addition to her job, she also styled hair in her home. She often took the children skating, out for pizza and to many birthday parties. "She was always going somewhere," her mother said. "I'd say, `Girl, won't you rest sometime?'"

Her death is the second her parents have had to face. Brewster's older sister died several years ago from lupus.

The family said there are many questions they hope to have answered. In the meantime, they're waiting for the coroner's office to release Brewster's body so they can prepare a proper burial.

"I trust Jesus," Mahan said. "He holds the future and He knows what's best. It's gonna work out."
 

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sad story... :(

I wonder what happened? Did the clerk have a 1911 and the thumb safety come off? Was he wearing a Glock with one in the tube? Probably not wearing a revolver.

Who knows.. but two things are for sure... the clerk committed two cardinal gun handling sins...

#1 One he pointed a gun at someone

and #2 his finger was on the trigger when he was handing it too her.

In any case if I were the owner of the gunshop I would be expecting one heck of a lawsuit.
 

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There's a list of dont do's when handling weapons, and what that clerk did was at the top of the list. Now those 2 kids will grow up with out their mom. This is what happens when people become "casual" around loaded weapons. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
 

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Damn tragedy brother...

Prayers for their family and unfortunately another example of poor firearms safety resulting in death.
 

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Flatiron said:
sad story... :(

I wonder what happened? Did the clerk have a 1911 and the thumb safety come off? Was he wearing a Glock with one in the tube? Probably not wearing a revolver.
What? I don't understand your point? Are you being sarcastic or are you serious?
 

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SGT cap,
Everyone deserves some respect in death, and that woman certainly did not deserve to die at that pawn shop. Every person on Earth deals with personel battles that we can't pretend to understand fully. It is not for us to judge her. Just because you my read an article that deals with a tiny snippit of her life doesn't IMHO give you the right to bad mouth her, especially with vulgar language about how she became someone's mother. Respect for the dead is apparant in the article that was posted; and thats because that respect is deserved. I hope her children never read what you wrote.
 

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Seems like a negligent homicide to me, at least involuntary manslaughter.

It's not an accident, it's negligence. Written by somedbody who doesn't know that a gun can't "accidently" go off. The trigger got pulled somehow.

The pawn shop advertised that they sell guns. They have to know how to handle them safely.
 

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