Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ohio: Pizza shop owner describes robbery, shooting

Akron, Ohio

From the Akron Beacon Journal of April 1, 2009
Pizza shop owner describes robbery, shooting

John Hayes wants only to sell pizzas, not shoot robbers.

But the day after his West Akron pizza parlor was held up and he shot and killed the shotgun-armed robber, Hayes remains concerned about his business, his life and the health of his six workers.

He wants the public to know why he opened fire: He didn't want to be killed, like other robbery victims around the city. He wants only to sell pizzas.

''I'm devastated,'' he said inside Your Pizza Shop, the West Exchange Street parlor he purchased two months ago. ''It's an unbelievable situation I've been put into because of some person's carelessness and thoughtlessness.

''I'm in fear of my life, my employees' lives and the lives of everybody I know.''

Hayes, 37, was behind the counter Tuesday night when 20-year-old Patrick Finney, wearing an orange ski mask, walked in and pointed a sawed-off shotgun at his head just before 8 p.m.

A customer, an older woman from the neighborhood, was seated at the counter watching the Cavaliers game while waiting for a stromboli.

''He said, 'Give me the [expletive] money. This is an [expletive] robbery,'' Hayes said.

Hayes cooperated, giving the robber a stack of $10 bills. The robber wanted more and pointed the shotgun within inches of Hayes' head, he said.

''As soon as I gave him the money, I pulled my gun out from my hip, pointed it and fired four shots,'' Hayes said.

Finney fell to the floor, then stood back up. Hayes fired three more shots from his Smith & Wesson 9 mm pistol. Finney staggered outside and collapsed across the street. The cash he sought was dropped outside.

Hayes then called 911.

''I just got robbed at my pizza shop, 1077 West Exchange Street,'' Hayes says on the recording released by Akron police.

''OK, what kind. . . .does he have a weapon?'' a dispatcher asks.

''He had a weapon, a gun. I shot him. He's across the street laying down right now,'' Hayes says.

''You shot him?'' the dispatcher replies in a startled voice.

''I shot him right in front of me while he was holding a gun on me,'' Hayes replies.

Finney was taken to Akron General Medical Center. He died within the hour. An autopsy on Wednesday showed he was shot multiple times in the torso. The death has been ruled a homicide.

Akron police are investigating the shooting, but there is no indication that Hayes, who has been questioned by investigators, acted unlawfully. It was the fourth robbery at the shop since 2007.

Police Lt. Rick Edwards said Finney had no felony convictions, but he had been arrested in 2008 and charged with marijuana drug abuse. Finney failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Finney's mother, Patricia, lives six blocks south of Buchtel High School on Winton Avenue, but a neighbor said that Patrick Finney had lived with his grandmother until she died a few years ago. Efforts to reach other family members for comment were unsuccessful.

An acquaintance of Finney, Kenneth Amos, 20, of Akron, was arrested after the shooting and charged with tampering with evidence. He had items that belonged to Finney, Edwards said. Police would not say whether the items were connected to the robbery.

Hayes said the neighborhood reaction to the shooting has been troubling. A woman stood outside his shop taking pictures, for no apparent reason. Others have called and hung up. Business was slow Wednesday afternoon.

His delivery drivers are concerned about retaliation. He said he carries a weapon, with a concealed carry permit and regular shooting practice, to avoid being a victim. He cited the recent case of the North Hill man shot in a carjacking as reason for his fear of being shot during a robbery.


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