GULFPORT — The three masked men were looking for quick money when they walked into Gulfport Liquors just after 6 p.m. Monday.
When the clerk didn't respond to their demands quickly enough, one of the robbers shot him in the leg.
Wounded in the left thigh, the victim opened the register and handed over the money.
The bartender at Pepperz Lounge, which is connected to the liquor store at 4918 22nd Ave. S, heard the shot and rushed over just as the men were fleeing, said interim Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent.
The bartender called for help and stayed until the clerk, who was not identified by police, was taken to Bayfront Medical Center. The victim was treated for his injuries and released later Monday night.
Vincent said the robbery was possibly caught on surveillance video and said the masked men were young, possibly teenagers. One wore a blue, hooded sweatshirt.
As they fled, one of them grabbed a few bottles of cheap liquor stacked by the door.
They left through the front door and ran down a dirt alley behind the lounge, fleeing in a black Nissan sedan, an Altima or Maxima, police said, with license plate number 150WBD.
Vincent said it was not yet clear whether the gunman meant to shoot the victim in the leg or missed.
The bartender declined to talk about the robbery Monday, saying he was still too shaken up to talk.
Monday's heist adds to a growing list of violent robberies in south Pinellas in the past year and is the second in Gulfport since November.
On Dec. 22, three young men robbed the Joy Food Mart and shot the two clerks inside. One of the victim's three children was in the store when it happened. Police have made no arrests in that case.
For now, Vincent said there appears to be no connection between the two robberies.
"Detectives are vigorously pursuing leads in that investigation, as they will in this one," he said.
Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.