TAMPA — Pizza shop owner Mohamed-Aly Bassioni let it slide when the customer said he didn't have enough money for a soda.
Minutes later the man waved a gun and demanded money. So Bassioni emptied the register, about $700 or $800.
When the man started rooting around Bassioni's pockets for more, the restaurant owner had enough. He wrestled the gun away and held the robber by his sweatshirt. The robber wriggled free and ran out bare-chested, cash in hand.
But he left his cell phone and ID in the sweatshirt, then called 911 to report he had been mugged.
Two hours later, Anthony O'Neil Kinloch, 22, was in custody.
And on Wednesday, Bassioni was calmly giving his account of what happened and shrugging off suggestions of bravery.
"I believe in God,'' said Bassioni, 52. "And I said, whatever is going to happen will happen."
It all started with a Pepsi.
Authorities say Bassioni was working the counter when Kinloch walked into Westshore Pizza at 5310 N Orient Road about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday. He ordered a soda while he talked on his cell phone.
He said he didn't have the money to cover the tax, but Bassioni told him not to worry.
Kinloch sat down, still talking on his cell phone, and returned 10 minutes later for a slice of pizza. He gave Bassioni $2.41.
Three or four bites later, an employee left the shop to make a delivery. With Bassioni alone, Kinloch walked over with a pistol, Bassioni said.
Kinloch waved the .40-caliber semiautomatic, chambered a round and demanded money, the victim said. Bassioni handed over the money from the register, he said. Then Kinloch searched Bassioni's clothes for more.
"He was greedy," Bassioni said.
So Bassioni grabbed the gun. Kinloch reached for the register as he tried to free himself from Bassioni's grasp, Bassioni said.
During the struggle, a stray bullet pierced the floor. Bassioni said he held on, pressing the barrel of the gun into Kinloch's chest.
"I tell him, 'If you want to shoot now, shoot now,' " Bassioni said. "I said, 'You or I will be dead. I don't care.' "
They struggled, the pistol fell and Kinloch tried to run. But Bassioni grabbed him by his sweatshirt, pulling it off, and pulling off the shirt underneath as Kinloch got away.
Bassioni called 911.
So did Kinloch.
Deputies arrived at the pizza shop and found Kinloch's ID and cell phone. Bassioni looked at the ID and told deputies Kinloch was the gunman.
They went to Kinloch's apartment after he reported he had been attacked by two people. Kinloch was booked at 10:40 p.m. on charges of robbery and aggravated assault. He was held Wednesday without bail.
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Bassioni's wife, Hanan Ahmed, cried when he told her the story.
It was the first time he's been robbed in the 16 years he has owned the restaurant. It was also the closest he'd ever been to a gun.
But he wasn't afraid, he said.
"It's either way," Bassioni said calmly. "He can shoot me even after he takes the money, so I tried.''
Bassioni said he was okay except for a bruised elbow from the struggle.
He saved Kinloch's partly eaten slice of pizza as a souvenir.
Ileana Morales can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or email@example.com.