Woman was pregnant when she subdued, shot would-be robber in St. Paul
The St. Paul police chief, upon hearing about Susana Khalil shooting a would-be thief, thought, "Now that's an East Sider."
By ANTHONY LONETREE, Star Tribune
Last update: February 26, 2009 - 9:23 PM
Two years ago, Susana Khalil, eight months pregnant and with a toddler daughter at her side, shot a would-be robber at her husband's convenience store on St. Paul's East Side.
Six months later, her husband sold the place, Khalil said, and she was relieved.
But there Thursday morning, stopping by the Super USA store for old time's sake, was Khalil, 35, this time with a Chief's Award of Valor around her neck.
Police Chief John Harrington, who lives near the store at Earl Street and Maryland Avenue, honored Khalil on Thursday for her heroism. During a ceremony at police headquarters, he said he was amazed she had the presence of mind to protect herself and her daughter with a woman bearing down on her with her hand in a bag pointed at Khalil's head.
"Horrific," the chief called the threat. The suspect, Angel Star Kaster, shot by Khalil in the left shoulder, pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated robbery in the 2007 incident. She'd used a TV remote control in the bag to simulate a handgun.
At Thursday's ceremony, which honored other civilians and law-enforcement personnel, too, Khalil stood alone with hands folded as the chief spoke. She offered only a polite "thank you" after he draped the medal around her neck. Later, however, she recalled the woman's "wild eyes," and acknowledged: "I was scared."
She went to the store that night, she said, to have pizza with her husband, Joe Khalil, who then asked her to mind the counter while he made a quick run to Cub Foods. Before he left, she said, he told her there was a gun under the cigarette racks.
Kaster entered the store, she said, while daughter Vivian was playing with lottery tickets beside her. The woman headed toward a cooler near the counter, but then charged at the pregnant Khalil.
Khalil managed to push Kaster into a corner, she said, at which time she grabbed the gun. Kaster approached again, Khalil said, and made a move toward the girl. Without aiming, Khalil said, she shot her. "I don't know if she have a gun -- or if she have a knife," she said.
Harrington said Thursday that he saw news coverage of the incident before being briefed internally and thought to himself then: "Now that's an East Sider."
Police said it was legal to have a gun at the store.
Revisiting the scene
About an hour after Thursday's ceremony, a reporter was at the Super USA store speaking to a current cashier when Khalil walked in -- a total surprise -- still wearing her medal. Having been at a Mexican foods store nearby, she said, she thought she'd check on any changes the new owner may have made. The cooler had been moved.
On the counter she placed a 12-pack of Pepsi and lentils, among other items, and asked for a Powerball ticket, too. She recalled the many times customers would come in seeking lottery tickets only, or how some people would load items onto the counter, and then say, "Oh, I'm short [on cash]," she said.
"Do they say that still?" she asked the cashier.
Khalil, who lives in Blaine, isn't in the neighborhood often and hopes to never again be behind a convenience store counter, she said. But, she added, "we have this store for like two years. You have good memories, too."
As for her pregnancy at the time of the robbery attempt? Kristina is now 21 months old.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109