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St. Petersburg store owner dies of injuries

Mohammad Uddin spent Sunday morning with his good friend Mohammad Hossain. They drove to a poultry farm in Tampa and killed 20 chickens in preparation for Ramadan. Around noon, Uddin left his friend to open his convenience store.

That evening, two men came into Uddin's store in St. Petersburg and shot him and two customers during the course of a robbery. Hours later, police arrested two suspects, charging them with attempted murder.

Uddin, 44, died of his injuries around 1 p.m. Monday. And Tuesday, police had planned to upgrade the charges against Spencer Peeples, 27, and Khadafy Mullens, 24, to first-degree murder.

Police said Mullens and Peeples entered Uddin's Central Food Mart store, at 2157 Central Ave., around 6:30 p.m. Sunday. They stole cash, lottery tickets and cigarettes. Peeples took Uddin's keys and started up his 2002 Toyota. Mullens left the store to check if Peeples had the car, and came back to find Uddin calling police.

Mullens shot Uddin in the head after a brief argument, said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Bill Proffitt. He pushed Ronald Hayworth, 50, to the ground and shot him once. Albert Barton, 66, was shot three times as he walked into the store.

Hayworth and Barton are being treated at Bayfront Medical Center. Hayworth is in critical condition and Barton is in serious condition, which means his vital signs are more stable, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

A patrol officer spotted the stolen vehicle after police sent out an alert. After a short pursuit, Peeples crashed and was arrested.

Proffitt said Peeples alerted police to Mullens' whereabouts, and Mullens was arrested leaving Peeples' residence at the 2300 block of Fourth Avenue S about 11 p.m.

Police were able to figure out what happened from store video of the crime, Proffitt said. The suspects stole a video recorder from the back of the store but it was old and not in use. A new camera system caught their actions.

Uddin worked every day at the convenience store he bought in 1999, as well as a gas station on 13th Avenue and 34th Street N that he bought with partners two months ago, said Hossain. His main goal in life was to make enough money to provide his 6-year-old daughter and 2-year old son with a quality education.

"He (was) always serious about his family, his future," said Hossain, 39, his friend of about nine years, who worked the morning shift at Uddin's store. "He always worried about that."

Uddin planned to return to Bangladesh after his children finished college, Hossain said.

Uddin came to Florida in 1997 on an immigration visa won in a State Department lottery. He returned to Bangladesh a handful of times, once to get married.

Hossain said the violence has rattled their friends in the Bangladeshi community.

"Most of our community people are doing some kind of business," Hossain said. "Everybody is scared. What is next, you know?"

St. Petersburg store owner dies of injuries 08/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 3:38pm]
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