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Gun shop owner honored

By SARAH KOCH

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A gun shop owner who shot and killed an intruder last month, then beat a murder charge, was honored by a national police group Wednesday.

The 68,000-member American Federation of Police awarded Donn C. DiBiasio its Golden Eagle award, which has recognized 19 others for outstanding contributions to law enforcement. Other recipients include President Reagan in 1983 and Vice President George Bush in 1985.

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DiBiasio was arrested and charged with murder July 20 after he shot and killed an intruder, Wayne Costa, 23, who backed a stolen car through his storefront window and came at him with a pipe.

Costa was the third intruder in two weeks to break into DiBiasio's gun shop. When DiBiasio tried unsuccessfully to obtain police protection for his store, he set up a cot there and guarded it at night himself.

A statewide grand jury refused to indict DiBiasio two weeks ago, deciding he acted in self-defense when he shot Costa.

AFP President Dennis Martin called DiBiasio's arrest 'an embarrassment to law enforcement officials across the country.'

By honoring the gun shop owner, Martin said AFP is 'sending out a two-fold message. Citizens have a right to defend themselves ... and if you've perpetrated a crime, you will be held accountable for your actions.'

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Martin called DiBiasioa hero and said he had demonstrated 'valor' by taking responsibility for protecting himself and his business. He said he does not expect the award to prompt rampant vigilantism throughout the country, but that citizens should feel free to defend themselves when threatened.

DiBiasio said he doesn't consider himself a hero, but the award reaffirms his faith in the justice system. However, he said he is still angry at police who allegedly harassed him the night of his arrest.

DiBiasio said when he arrived at the police station, two detectives questioned him and one said, 'You hate cops don't you?' DiBiasio said.

He said he does not know the detective's name, but would recognize him on sight. DiBiasio also said the detective said to him, 'You think you're pretty good with a pistol.'

No police officials attended Wednesday's award ceremony, even though Martin said he was told a representative would be there.

Martin said he learned from police that two people are suspected of being with Costa the night of the shooting. Martin said police believe they fled the scene when shots were fired.

Police Chief Walter Clark could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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