Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Stop in store was homeless man's last

ST. PETERSBURG — A homeless customer who was shot during a robbery at a St. Petersburg convenience store has died.

Ronald Hayworth, was the second person killed in Sunday's robbery inside the Central Food Mart at 2157 Central Ave. Hayworth was pushed to the ground and shot in the head, presumably because he was a witness, police said.

Hayworth, 50, along with store owner Mohammad Uddin, 44, who died Monday, bring the city's murder total to 18 for the year, said St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt. A third man, Albert Barton, 66, was shot three times. He was in fair to good condition at Bayfront Medical Center on Wednesday.

Police anticipate that Khadafy Mullens, 24, and Spencer Peeples, 27, arrested hours after the robbery, will now face two counts of first-degree murder.

Hayworth and Barton were regulars at the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Beacon House, which is next to the store. Beacon House director Brent Jenkins said Barton was a resident but declined to comment further, citing privacy concerns.

Hayworth ate dinner at the shelter sometimes, he said. On Wednesday, some of the dinner guests said Hayworth was a quiet man who kept to himself and didn't cause trouble. Vito McKie, a dispatch agent at Pacesetter Personnel Services, said Hayworth had steady construction work for the past four months. He even tried to find work on Sunday before he was shot.

"He's a good guy trying hard to stay good," McKie said.

At times, a rough crowd frequented the store. Alcohol consumption on the sidewalk was common. Records show police visited the store more than 50 times since January.

Uddin installed a new surveillance system after he was robbed and mugged in May, said Mohammad Hossain, 39, a good friend. The video helped police figure out what happened Sunday, Proffitt said.

The attackers stole cash, cigarettes and lottery tickets, police said. After the robbery, Mullens left the store to check if Peeples was ready with the getaway car, police said. When Mullens came back, he saw Uddin calling police. Mullens shot Uddin in the head and then shot Hayworth, police said. When Barton walked in, Mullens shot him as well.

News of the deaths shocked residents and neighboring businesses. Most described Uddin as a friendly man who greeted customers with a smile, kept the store stocked with their favorites, and let them pay him later if they were short of cash.

Kenny Larrison, 47, a resident of historic Kenwood, shopped at Uddin's store. He was so disturbed by the murders that he has decided to buy a gun and take shooting courses.

"I'm absolutely shocked. I can't say it enough," he said. "I'm 21/2 blocks away, and when I hear about three people getting shot and two dead … that's pretty close. I'm nervous."

The store was closed Wednesday. Bouquets of flowers lay on the curb outside the padlocked door. One note read: "Mohammad was a kind, brave, hardworking man. He represents that which makes America great. You will be missed."

Hossain, who worked the morning shift at the store, said he doesn't know when it will reopen. "No one wants to open it," he said. "Everyone is scared. Me too."

Uddin's wife and two young children ages 6 and 2 are trying to heal, Hossain said. Uddin's daughter started kindergarten Wednesday. Uddin's motivation for working so hard was to make sure his children would have a good education, Hossain said.

"I was hoping it wasn't this guy," said customer Jacob Christiano, 35. "He was just calling police. It's what any one of us would have done."

Christiano's chalk art on the sidewalk outside the store summed up what many people were feeling: "R.I.P. We'll miss you!"

Times staff writer Casey Cora contributed to this report.

Stop in store was homeless man's last 08/20/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2008 3:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two Kissimmee police officers killed; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — Two Kissimmee police officers were shot and killed Friday night, and one person was taken into custody, authorities said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.