By: Reed Williams | Times-Dispatch
Published: July 12, 2009 Updated: July 12, 2009 - 5:01 AM
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.
The previous shooting at Golden Food took place late the night of June 12. And three nights earlier, a co-owner of the Come and Go Food Market, which is about three blocks north of Golden Food on Jefferson Davis, was shot and killed in a robbery.
Authorities said it was too early to know whether any of the three shootings on Jefferson Davis are connected.
A few hours after yesterday's shootings, Said "Sam" Messaf, the man who was shot June 12 at Golden Food, was at the store to help another man shut down the market.
Messaf described how he had been helping out at the store June 12 when two robbers came inside. One man opened fire, reaching over the counter and shooting as Messaf cowered behind it, he said. Messaf was shot six times in his legs.
He said he suffered nerve damage in his left leg and has trouble sleeping.
Trammell said residents and business owners were scared by the recent violence but have faith that police are doing their best to stop it.
"I'm still shook up," Trammell said. "I'm not afraid, but we've worked so hard on Jefferson Davis -- so hard in that area to bring crime down."