Two clerks shot in another store holdup

Gulfport police look at potential evidence around the entrance to the Joy Food Mart at 1005 49th St. S after two clerks were shot in a robbery Monday night.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Gulfport police look at potential evidence around the entrance to the Joy Food Mart at 1005 49th St. S after two clerks were shot in a robbery Monday night.

GULFPORT — Two clerks were shot during a convenience store robbery Monday night, the third violent holdup in the St. Petersburg area in the last three weeks.

Late Monday, police said they couldn't say if the robbery was related to two other robberies and shootings of store clerks this month.

The shooting Monday occurred about 8:30 p.m. at Joy Food Mart, 1005 49th St. S.

Police said both clerks could speak with investigators after the robbery. The clerks were taken to Bayfront Medical Center with injuries not believed to be life-threatening. Police said they were in stable condition.

The officers said both clerks were shot once. One pushed an alarm that summoned police. When officers arrived, one clerk was behind the counter and the other was by the door, police said.

No arrests were reported.

Police said the robbery was committed by three males who were in their late teens or early 20s, though they did not release detailed descriptions.

Officers appeared to be trying to review surveillance video inside the store Monday night.

Randy Diggs, 28, a frequent customer at the store, was shocked by the shooting.

"They don't hurt nobody. They give people credit," said Diggs, who lives near the store. "They always try to help people out. I come here every day."

The shootings are the latest in a series of violent robberies in the Tampa Bay area this fall and winter.

On Dec. 1, Narendra Patel was shot during a robbery at his store, Star Deli, 2451 Fifth Ave. N.

Two days later, Indravadan Patel was shot during a robbery at his store, Suhani, 2539 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

Both men, who are brothers, survived.

Though police said the robberies likely were committed by the same masked robbers, they don't believe the robbers singled out the brothers.

No arrests have been made in those shootings.

Surveillance videos of those holdups showed the gunman was tall and wiry, aggressive and fast. A second robber stood at the door as a lookout in both holdups.

In the first robbery, the gunman shot the owner three times even though he had already gotten the money from the till.

In the second holdup, the robber vaulted the counter, shot the owner in the stomach and reached into the register.

On Dec. 6, two masked and armed men tried to rob John's Variety, 208 Fourth St. N, but the clerk pulled a gun and scared them off by firing three shots. Two men later were arrested in connection with that robbery, but police said they don't believe they are responsible for the Patel shootings.

St. Petersburg police also compared notes with detectives in Hillsborough County, who were investigating their own string of violent robberies at the time.

Police also fanned out to the city's convenience stores to give them safety advice, which includes staffing stores with two clerks at night.

The St. Petersburg Times published a short article about a robbery at the Joy Food Mart in June 2001. In that holdup, a robber ordered customers to the floor while a clerk emptied the register. It was unclear if an arrest was made in that case.

Property records show Joy Food Mart is owned by Nguyen Enterprises of Warren, Mich.

Two clerks shot in another store holdup 12/23/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 10:16am]

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