NEW PORT RICHEY — Danny Foster was going to retire next month. He was 61 and spent most of his life doing security and maintenance work until he physically couldn't do it anymore. About three years ago, he got a job as a clerk at a 7-Eleven on Ridge Road. He liked it but he was excited about retirement. He wanted to go fishing.
Foster died Wednesday afternoon from injuries he suffered during a 7-Eleven robbery.
"They didn't have to kill him," said Pat Morris, 48, who lived next door to Foster and his wife of 37 years, Sonja. Morris said she was at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point on Wednesday when Foster was taken off life support.
"He was a good man," Morris said.
Authorities say two New Port Richey men burst into the convenience store about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. Adam Luke Moyer, 17, pointed a shotgun at Thomas Kent, the 37-year-old clerk behind the register, and ordered him to give him money, a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states. Kent opened the register and Moyer collected what was there: $40.
Foster was outside the store and walked in as the suspects were trying to flee. The Sheriff's Office said the second suspect, Russell David Lane, 30, pushed Foster, whose head hit the door and then the concrete sidewalk.
Morris said she and Foster's wife spoke with Kent, who was not injured. Morris said she was told Foster walked in, saw the gun in his colleague's face and said: "Oh no you don't."
"And he went after the guy," Morris said.
She said the hospital doctor said Foster suffered blunt force trauma to the head. She thinks the robbers hit Foster on the head "and then he was thrown out the door onto the concrete sidewalk," she said.
"His head injury was so severe we think his brain died instantly."
Pasco sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said it will be up to the medical examiner's office to determine Foster's cause of death.
Both robbers fled on foot from the 7-Eleven at 9039 Ridge Road, near Bass Lake Drive. Deputies swarmed the area and a police dog found the two suspects.
Moyer told investigators he threatened the clerk with a hammer — not a shotgun, the report states.
Lane and Moyer both have extensive criminal histories. They were charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery and aggravated assault. Lane is being held without bail at the Pasco jail. Moyer is in juvenile custody.
Tobin said the Sheriff's Office is working with the State Attorney's Office about increasing the charges against Lane and Moyer.
"Now we have a homicide case," Tobin said.
Morris said the Fosters had no children, though they acted as parental figures for Morris and other people. People in their Port Richey neighborhood called Foster "Mr. D," out of respect for the man who often helped others and believed in doing the right thing. He hated lying.
"He was a very loving man," Morris said.
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.