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Originally published Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 7:28 PM

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French jeweler who shot dead one of two robbers becomes folk hero

Nearly 1 million people have “liked” a Facebook page set up in solidarity with jeweler Stephan Turk, 67, who opened fire on two men who held up his store Wednesday, fatally shooting one.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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PARIS — A jeweler in the southern French city of Nice who has been charged with murder for killing a robber has become a hero on social-networking sites.

Nearly 1 million people have “liked” a Facebook page set up in solidarity with Stephan Turk, 67, who opened fire on two men who held up his store Wednesday, fatally shooting one of them as they attempted to flee on a scooter.

The jeweler said he was acting in self-defense but prosecutor Eric Bedos said he suspected the jeweler had aimed to kill the one suspect, who has been identified only as Anthony, 19.

The dead man and an accomplice held up Turk at gunpoint as he was opening his shop and forced him to hand over the contents of his safe. He fired at them as they fled, shooting Anthony in the back.

The dead man had 14 previous convictions for petty crime. His brother told Nice Matin newspaper that Anthony was trying to raise money to support his pregnant girlfriend.

Turk, whose shop had been burgled in 2012, was released from custody on Friday and placed under house arrest. He was fitted with an electronic bracelet.

The case has triggered an outpouring of support for the shop owner. More than 930,000 people had “liked” a Facebook page titled “Support for the jeweler in Nice” by early Saturday. Thousands of people wrote messages of support for Turk, many of which accused young “scum” of sponging off the hard work of others and accused the government of being soft on crime.

“Unfortunately we live in a country where, if we want justice to be done, we have to do it ourselves. Full support for this jeweler who was defending his living,” one man wrote on Facebook.

The case comes after a spate of jewelry robberies along the French Riviera in recent months.

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