Body art has exploded in popularity in recent years—according to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of Americans ages 18-25 have at least one tattoo. As a result, tattoo parlors—which historically have operated in rougher areas—sometimes become a victim of their own success, as nearby criminals are attracted to the ever-increasing amounts of money the popular establishments rake in. Is it any wonder, then, that actual guns have won a place alongside tattoo guns in many of today’s body art studios?
After being robbed for the fourth time since Christmas, including once just days before, Dragon Azz Tattoo Supply owner and Albuquerque resident Alvino Maestas had taken to sleeping next to a motion detector that alerted him when anyone entered his tattoo parlor. That decision paid off one Wednesday morning at about 6 a.m., when Maestas’ cell phone alerted him to a possible robbery. He immediately grabbed his revolver and raced to the shop. When he arrived, he found the intruder, who had climbed onto a counter and was making his escape through a ceiling air vent. “I snuck in the front door so he wouldn’t hear me, and I see his foot going up the hole,” Maestas told KOBF-TV. Realizing that the thief was in the process of completely cleaning him out, the business owner took out his gun, which was loaded with miniature shotgun shells, and fired. “I just reached over and didn’t even look, shot one round close as I could get to him.” Though the suspect got away, police suspect that he was spooked by the gunshot, as a group of men working on the shop’s roof that afternoon found many of the stolen items abandoned on the roof. (KOBF-TV, Albuquerque, N.M., 05/25/2017)
Two men entered a Las Vegas tattoo parlor on a Monday night and confronted the employee on duty, who recognized them as acquaintances “EZ” and “Fern Dog.” Both of them were armed. They immediately attacked the employee, kicking him multiple times. The employee told sheriff’s deputies that “Fern Dog was so worked up” that he feared for his life. The arrest report says the employee momentarily escaped to the business safe, where he retrieved his own gun. Returning to the front of the store, the employee heard gun shots, then saw Fern Dog pointing his gun. After the employee heard another shot, he fired four to five rounds at Fern Dog while EZ, later identified as 28-year-old Eric Garcia, fled the store. Fern Dog, whose name was Fernando Montano, died at the scene, and Garcia was apprehended a short time later. (KTNV, Las Vegas, Nev., 7/18/2016)
An employee at Ink Dynasty, a Philadelphia area tattoo shop, was helping a customer just before 8 p.m. on a Thursday when two men entered and demanded money. The man working inside initially raised his hands and backed off, but after realizing the suspects were armed, he pulled out his handgun and opened fire on the men. The suspects then ducked and ran for the door, but not before returning fire. One of the bullets hit a male customer in the calf, but no other injuries were reported, and police say the employee will not face charges. (WPVI, Philadelphia, Pa., 01/15/2016)
Tattoo artist Sean Rodriguez was working one afternoon when he was alerted to an assault taking place outside Black Cobra Tattoo. Six men could be seen assaulting an individual in the parking lot. “I couldn't just sit back and watch an innocent person being hurt,” Rodriguez said. He grabbed the firearm he is licensed to carry and approached the group of men. Upon seeing the gun, the suspects fled. Rodriguez never fired a shot, nor did he point the gun in their direction. "That was just an incident of a responsible gun owner doing what they're supposed to do," Rodriguez explained. The victim was treated for minor injuries and nothing was stolen. It was last reported that all six suspects are still at large. (The Daily Times, Salisbury, Md., 3/21/13)
Just after 6 p.m.,three armed criminals entered the West End Tattoo parlor in Atlanta, Ga., and attempted to rob the owner. The owner retrieved a 9 mm pistol and fired at the criminals, killing one and causing the others to flee. Police do not plan to charge the owner. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., 06/16/10)