Store owner shot after attempted robbery

Walter Phelps
Walter Phelps

By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Friends and police are calling it a senseless act.

A gunman entered an Albany hardware store and gunned down the owner. He's still alive, but the suspect is on the loose.

It happened just before eight Saturday morning at the P&P Hardware Center near North Slappey and Palmyra Road.

Less than three hours after Walter Phelps was shot and left for dead inside his store it was back open.

"It happened at eight in them morning, he was possibly just opening up," said Phyllis Banks, Albany Police Media Manager.

Friends and customers came to the store after getting world the attempted armed robbery.

"Somebody came in earlier with a hood and came back later and shot Mr. Phelps," said Betty Johnson, Lee County Commissioner.

Phelps was a Lee County Commissioner, Johnson knows him well.

"They are fine people, some of the finest people that I've ever met," said Johnson.

A worker who didn't want to be on camera walked in on the robbery, he told WALB-TV Phelps was bleeding from the shoulder area, the gunman ordered that worker to the ground before fleeing on foot empty handed.

"I couldn't believe it," said Austin Smith.

The news was hard to take.

"Nice guy, do anything in the world for you," said Smith.

"I think it's terrible that somebody would stoop so low to come in a business and shoot the owner," said Johnson.

With the Phelps and another worker on the ground the suspect left the store without any money and on foot.

"We're actively looking for suspects at this time," said Banks.

Customers are stunned this happened during the day at a busy intersection.

"Something needs to be done about all this robbery, because it could happen to you or me or anyone else," said Smith.

Saturday his son opened the gate to the garden center on what was suppose to be a special day.

"Today is his son's birthday," said Johnson.

The one gift he, family, and loyal customers want is Phelps' speedy recovery.

He was taken to Phoebe Putney Hospital where he underwent surgery, he is in fair condition.

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