Sunday, July 12, 2009

Virginia: Two shot in South Richmond store

Richmond, Virginia

From the Times Dispatch of July 12, 2009
Two shot in South Richmond store

A gunman who had wounded a shopkeeper and opened fire on several customers was stopped yesterday when another man shot him at the store in South Richmond, authorities said.

The violent attempted robbery took place shortly after 1 p.m. at the Golden Food Market at 2701 Jefferson Davis Highway, the same store where another man was shot last month -- and only three blocks from the scene of another robbery in June that left a shopkeeper dead.

Owners of as many as a dozen Jefferson Davis-area businesses flocked to the scene of the shooting, and many were rattled by such a brazen daylight attack, said Councilwoman Reva Trammell, whose 8th District includes the Jefferson Davis corridor.

Trammell, who arrived outside the store shortly after yesterday's shootings, described a frenzied scene. One man told Trammell that the man who had shot the robber was a guardian angel.

"Whoever did it probably saved their lives in there," Trammell said of the shooter.

Police did not identify anyone involved in yesterday's shootings.

The man who shot the robber is a friend of the store owner, and he was wearing a holster with a Western-style revolver, said Managing Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Tracy Thorne-Begland.

After the suspect shot the store owner and opened fire on patrons, the owner's friend shot the suspect once in the torso, took his gun and called police, Thorne-Begland said.

Thorne-Begland said it appeared that the shooting of the suspect was justified, although he emphasized that the investigation was in the early stages.

Police said they expect to file charges against the suspect.

The store owner's injuries did not appear life-threatening, authorities said, but the gunman's injuries were said to be life-threatening. No one else was hurt.

Anthony Gregory, who lives near Golden Food, said he was in the store about 15 minutes before the shootings, and that while he was there, he saw a man with a baby making a purchase.

Gregory said the owner told the baby, "Welcome to the world. This is a dangerous world, so be careful. But don't worry, God will protect you."

Police Cmdr. Steve Drew said officers had been patrolling up and down Jefferson Davis yesterday and recently have bolstered their presence in the area. He said it was unusual for a commercial robbery to happen so early in the day.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch of July 15, 2009
Richmond Store owner grateful for man who shot robber

Three days after Mustapha Kassou was shot in an attempted robbery in his store in South Richmond, he said that he owed his life to the man who ended the ordeal by shooting the robber.

Yesterday, Kassou returned to Golden Food Market on Jefferson Davis Highway for the first time since he was shot there Saturday afternoon.

Kassou said the masked robber walked into the store shortly after 1 p.m. and seemed startled to see about eight people inside. The robber told everyone to get on the floor, and then he fired at Kassou and hit him twice, he said.

"When the guy shot me, I was waiting for him to finish me," Kassou said. "I was knocked down behind the cash register."

The other armed man pulled a six-shot revolver from his holster and told the robber to drop his weapon, Kassou said. When he didn't, authorities say, the man shot the robber once in the torso, took the robber's gun and called police.

Witnesses told police it appeared the robber ran out of bullets and tried to reload. Some people in the store told the man to finish off the robber, witnesses reported.

"Everyone was telling him to kill him," Kassou said, "but he said, 'I can't do it.'"

Saturday's incident was the second such shooting at the store in a month.

The two shootings at Golden Food and the fatal shooting of a shopkeeper last month in another store just blocks away have alarmed some nearby residents, although police say the number of violent crimes along the Jefferson Davis corridor has been declining since May.

Councilwoman Reva Trammell, whose 8th District includes the corridor, and police Cmdr. Steve Drew will hold a public safety meeting for Jeff Davis-area business owners tonight from 6 to 8 at the Satellite Restaurant, 4000 Jefferson Davis Highway.

Kassou was released from the hospital Sunday, but he was limping and in obvious pain yesterday. He sat inside his store with family members, but he kept the front door locked. He said the shootings have made him scared of almost everyone.

He said he was struggling with whether he should reopen the store. He does not know how he would support his wife and two children if he chooses to keep the store closed.

Kassou said he is considering returning to his native Morocco. He said he is an American citizen and has lived here about 20 years and loves this country.

"It's not worth it anymore," he said, adding that he will arm himself if he reopens the store.

Kassou said he still is alive because of God -- and because of the man who drew a .45-caliber Western-style revolver and ended Saturday's robbery by shooting the gunman.

"He saved a lot of lives," Kassou said. "He was like an angel who came to save everybody."

Authorities say the robber was wounded after he shot Kassou and fired on customers.

Neither Kassou nor the police would identify the man who shot the robber. Authorities said an initial investigation indicates the man acted lawfully when he shot the robber.

Police have charged James Grooms III, 30, of South Richmond with attempted robbery, use of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon.

He remained in critical condition last night at VCU Medical Center.

A woman who said she is one of Grooms' relatives declined to comment when reached by phone yesterday.

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