By Tim Whyte
The men started their days differently on Feb. 2. Nick Durghalli went to work at his small business. He didn’t plan on that day changing his life.
Brandon Burris, 25, started his day with a different intent. He was going to rob a liquor store — the one owned by Nick Durghalli.
Burris entered the Golden Stop, at Sierra Highway and Golden Valley Road, armed with a handgun. But things didn’t go as planned for Burris, because Durghalli had a gun, too.
What ensued was a shootout that wounded the store owner and left the robber dead, shot six times.
When deputies arrived, they found Durghalli, bleeding, trying to crawl out of his store. A deputy dragged him to safety, not immediately knowing whether a shooter was still inside.
Sheriff’s officials say the store owner acted in self-defense. When I first read our news story, my gut reaction was: “Good for him. This was a proper exercise of his Second Amendment rights.”
As has become de rigueur after a fatality, GoFundMe pages went up. As you might expect, there was one for the store owner, who suffered injuries and, I’m sure, some business losses, too.
The page for Durghalli set a goal of $10,000, and the intro reads: “Let’s rally around our friend Nick… He had a gun pulled on him and someone attempted to rob him not only of his livelihood, but of his life! Thank God my friend exercised his Second Amendment rights and was able to save his customer and his own life! Let’s wrap our arms around Nick, and let him know Santa Clarita supports him and he is a true hero!” The page has raised $1,610.
That’s $5,596 less than what’s been raised on the GoFundMe page for the family of Burris, the robber. The intro to that page reads: “As this was very sudden to our family, we are asking for any help that can be provided to us in this devastating time. Brandon leaves behind his parents, a praying great-grandmother and grandmother, a son Elijah Burris, a host of brothers and sisters, as well as many family members! Due to Brandon’s untimely death, the family is struggling to provide him with the proper burial. Please assist us as we lay Brandon to rest at his final destination. Rest in heaven as well as peacefully, Brandon ‘G Monk’ Burris! We love you unconditionally.”
When I saw the totals, I was taken aback: $7,206 for the robber, and $1,610 for the man he tried to rob.
There’s an incongruity to that.
I don’t begrudge anyone for helping Burris’ family. I don’t know what demons he battled, or what led to his fateful decision. None of those answers would make his loss any less devastating for his family. The people who loved him, unconditionally, are hurting, dealing with unexpected loss.
I get it. It’s similar to how I felt about the GoFundMe for the family of the shooter who killed two classmates at Saugus High on Nov. 14 before killing himself. He wasn’t the victim, he was the shooter. But he had family members who loved him and were grieving.
And yet… while I hate to reduce such things to something as cold as numbers… $7,206 for the robber’s family, and $1,610 for the man he tried to rob, who suffered physical and financial wounds, and will live the rest of his life knowing that, even though it was justified, he took a life.
There’s just something “off” about that.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.