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Pinellas sheriff says Georgia man shot Seminole food mart clerk without warning

SEMINOLE — Pinellas County has one of the nation's largest facial-recognition databases. But it couldn't help deputies identify the man accused of killing a store clerk.

A palm print didn't help, either. Nor did asking the local media to broadcast the suspect's photograph.

In the end, it was old-fashioned police work that led to Monday's arrest of Darius Diquan Bussey in connection with the Dec. 28 slaying of a clerk at the JFS Food Mart in Seminole.

Detectives canvassed local businesses around the store at 11815 Seminole Blvd. on Friday. They found someone at a nearby convenience store who recognized the suspect from a surveillance photo and knew his relative, a regular customer.

A clerk called detectives when the relative — identified only by the nickname "Unc" — returned to the store on Sunday. "Unc" initially refused to cooperate, but later that evening finally put a name to the face.

Detectives also learned why everything else they had tried up to that point hadn't worked: Bussey, 22, was from Valdosta, Ga. His photo wasn't in Pinellas' photo database of more than 12.5 million offenders. And his picture was broadcast in an area where no one really knew him.

Bussey turned himself in to Georgia authorities Monday after learning Pinellas detectives were on their way to arrest him. He will be held in a jail there pending extradition on a charge of first-degree murder.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced Bussey's arrest Tuesday and described the ambush that took store clerk Mohammod T. Islam's life.

Islam, 37, didn't have a chance. Surveillance video shows that Bussey shot and beat the clerk before demanding cash, the sheriff said.

"After engaging him in conversation, Bussey took out what we now know to be a .25-caliber handgun and shot Mr. Islam in the chest," Gualtieri said. Then Bussey jumped the counter.

"After pistol-whipping him in the head, he tried to force him to open the cash register," the sheriff said. "But Mr. Islam collapsed onto the floor after being shot."

Bussey left on a BMX bike without any money, Gualtieri said.

He was here visiting his aunt and uncle, who live nearby, but hitched a ride back to Valdosta on Friday, Gualtieri said.

Bussey told Pinellas detectives who went to Georgia to interview him that he tried to rob the store because of the "pain" of being broke and unemployed, according to the Sheriff's Office.

But the sheriff noted that the victim, Islam, worked two jobs.

"He went to work there every day …, " Gualtieri said, "and then he didn't go home because somebody decided they were going to take his life. It's horrendous."

Islam, 37, was born in Bangladesh and moved to Clearwater three years ago from Port Charlotte. He married Bibi Narisha Rahaman, 33, five years ago. They have no children.

He worshiped at the Al Hamza Mosque on Clearwater-Largo Road. His family plans to return his body to Bangladesh, where services will be held.

Bussey has previous arrests on charges of rape, disorderly conduct, retail theft and violation of probation in Georgia, according to Pinellas officials. Information about those cases was not immediately available.

Pinellas officials said the palm print found at the scene of the shooting matched Bussey's prints from Georgia. But because those were for juvenile arrests, sheriff's officials surmised that's why the print from the shooting didn't show up in a national database.

Bussey told deputies where he hid the gun, deputies said, but they were still looking for the weapon Tuesday.

Times staff writer Drew Harwell contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8472.

Pinellas sheriff says Georgia man shot Seminole food mart clerk without warning 01/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 10:24pm]
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