Still no arrest in weekend shooting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Still no arrest in weekend shooting

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Albany Police hope surveillance video will help them catch an armed robber who gunned down a businessman over the weekend. 67-year old Walter, Phelps, owner of P&P Garden Center and Hardware, is recovering from the gunshot wound.

The man who shot him is still on the run and now other Albany business owners are nervous.

A garden and hardware store is one of the last places you might expect to be targeted by robbers, but it was early Saturday morning. Now other businesses are on guard, and one owner we spoke to says he's ready to defend his property and his employees.

Shawn Vallandingham dishes up dogs at the Dog House on Highway 19 in Lee County. He said, "You work hard for what you do."

And he's not ready to let all that hard work become some criminal's selfish gain.  He said, "I think that everybody has the right to defend themselves and the right to bear arms." That's why his firearm is always within an arm's length.  The reason?  "For the safety of me and my employees."

Vallandingham says he was sickened when he heard Walter Phelps was shot just a few blocks away shortly after opening P&P Garden and Hardware Saturday morning. The shooter didn't even get away with any cash, just left Phelps bleeding on the floor. "It's terrible," said Vallandingham.  "Makes no sense at all."

There are several surveillance cameras at nearby businesses. Police are hoping the robber may have been caught on tape.

Vallandingham says he would have tried to stop the robber in his tracks. "If you come rob me, you're going to get shot."

Vallandingham has been around guns all of his life and says if he were confronted by an armed robber, he would be comfortable defending his store, his employees, his life.  He said, "Would not hesitate. Would not hesitate. Somebody wants to come up here and rob you or shoot you like the guy down the road did, you going to do what you going to do."

Fighting back, in order to protect what's important to him. Vallandingham says while he would feel comfortable defending his store, he tells his employees if they are ever confronted by an armed robber they should comply with their demands and give them whatever they want.

Vallandingham says he believes every store owner should have a gun to protect their business and employees, but only if they are comfortable with and trained on how to properly use a firearm.

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