Split-second decision leads to arrest, not death

Posted at 11:27 PM, Sep 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-22 23:27:53-04

NEW MIAMI, Ohio -- Deputy Bill Brown had a split-second to make a life-or-death decision: Would he shoot the man who had a firearm at a gas station Sunday night?

Brown didn't know whether the weapon was real or fake when he got to the Thornton's gas station in New Miami shortly before midnight Sunday. He was called there on a report of two people being disorderly; one of them was pulling up his shirt and showing a gun.

When Brown arrived, he said, Mel Tittle walked toward the back side of the store. Brown asked Tittle to show his hands. According to the sheriff's office, that's when Tittle took a gun from his hip holster and ducked behind some ice machines and a propane exchange cage.

Eventually, after several of Brown's commands, Tittle tossed down the gun and yelled he'd done nothing wrong, according to the sheriff's office.

It was a BB gun.

Tittle is accused of having this realistic-looking BB gun. Photo courtesy of Butler County Sheriff's Office

"He initially had his back to me, but turned to face me when he pulled the gun out," Brown said in a news release. "I've been asked several times what went through my head at that moment, and honestly, there was no time to think -- that’s how much time I had to decide to shoot him or not."

Lt. Jeff Riegert, one of Brown's colleagues in the Butler County Sheriff's Office, said Tittle is lucky a veteran officer showed up to the scene, or else the outcome might've been quite different.

"You have that split-second decision to make, and like I said, in this situation, I'm glad it turned out the way it did," Riegert said.

Tittle also was carrying brass knuckles, according to the sheriff's office. He was charged with tampering with evidence -- an aggravated felony -- and carrying concealed weapons, inducing panic and disorderly conduct -- all misdemeanors.

The other person with Tittle at the gas station, John Tittle, 60, was charged with disorderly conduct.