Store clerk's murder yields protest - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Store clerk's murder yields protest

June 24, 2007

Moultrie -- Nearly one week after a Moultrie convenience store worker was fatally shot to death in an armed robbery, preparations are being made to send his body back to his native India.

In the mean time this deadly robbery has sent shock waves throughout the Moultrie community, especially amongst store owners and workers.

When Shantilal Bariya came to the United States from India, he came in search of a better life for his family, even though it meant leaving them thousands of miles away.

Bariya was of course tragically gunned down last Tuesday night in Moultrie, a city that has experienced it's fair share of armed robberies.

While several residents are concerned, stores owners are taking steps to protest against these robberies; all the while Bariya's killer remains at large.

Surveillance footage taken Tuesday night of a gunman entering the Quik Mark store is an all too familiar event in Moultrie, armed robbery.

With 17 of them occurring in 2007 alone, Tuesday night's incident claimed the life of 48-year-old Fast Serv Quick Mart employee Shantilal Bariya.

This recent murder has some Moultrie residents concerned.

" Very concerned. It's tragic someone lost their life over a few dollars," says Linda Rowe.

Just inches away from the cash register Bariya opened for the masked gunman who fatally shot the defenseless store clerk, money is being collected from patrons.

A few dollars to send thousands of miles away to Bombay, India where Bariya leaves behind a wife and two children.

The second shooting inside a Moultrie convenience store in just a matter of weeks, convenience store worker Michael Lupo knows all too well the dangers of armed robberies.

" There's too much crime going on around Moultrie, Georgia right now. I'm just trying to tell everyone to be careful and watch out," he says.

Lupo still has a gunman's bullet lodged in his body two years after he was robbed for just ten dollars and a bicycle. Tuesday nights murder hits close to home. Lupo fears the string of robberies may be related.

He adds, "I was trying to figure out maybe if it was the same ones that shot me and all of these other convenience stores that are getting robbed. I'm trying to figure out like if there's a pattern."

The rash of robberies along with Tuesday's killing have prompted some store owners to come together throughout southwest Georgia to protest the robberies. A move that could close up the doors of some locations to bring to light an issue that has plagued business owners and their employees.

While co-workers of Bariya make arrangements to send his body back to India, Moultrie Police are still working to find this dangerous masked suspect who remains on the loose.

Store owners are expected to meet sometime this week to discuss plans of a protest against recent armed robberies.

As far as the gunman Moultrie Police are pursuing, there is now a $2500 reward for anyone who has information that will lead police to the killer.

So far business owners have raised thirty thousand dollars for the family of the slain store clerk.

If you have any information about the case you are asked to contact the Moultrie Police Department.

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