An Early County store owner may be alive tonight because of a jammed gun. Two gunmen rushed into the Petro convenience store in Damascus last night at closing time. They beat up the owner and tried to shoot him but the gun was jammed.
Just as the last employee was walking out the door for the night the robbers fired a shot at the door before going into the store. However, firing the shot may be what saved the store owner's life.
Sarah Davis, who works as a cashier at the Petro, spent the day updating concerned customers on the status of store owner, Pranay Patel, better known to his customers as PT. "They just want to make sure he is okay. He's fine, he's coming in..they just want to see him," she said.
Patel was the victim in a violent armed robbery Sunday night as he and another employee were closing up. Around 9, just as the last employee was leaving the store. Two gunmen came out of nowhere and rushed into the store. They fired a shot at the door before getting inside.
"Their full purpose was to hurt him. they didn't care about the money because PT gave it to them and they still hurt him," she said.
And it could have been this shot that saved Patel's life. Once inside the store, the gunmen ordered Patel to give him all the money. Patel was on the ground behind the cash register, as the robbers made several attempts to get it the gun to work. "It is a miracle from God, it has to be because they fired the gun and then they came inside and tried to shoot him again and it didn't go off. Twice, they tried to shoot him and it didn't go off. It's a true blessing from God," said Davis.
"It is a miracle the gun did jam because if it did not we would of had a murder on our hands," said Early County Sheriff, William Price.
The sheriff says he won't tolerate this kind of violent crime. "My message to them is we are going to do everything in our powers to make sure justice is served," he said.
He also says it may be gang related.
"It breaks my heart, he is such a nice man. To see someone just want to hurt him and that's all they wanted to do was to hurt him," said Davis.
Patel is injured but he's back at work today. "He's going to show them you are not going to take us down..or hold us back," she said.
She urges other cashiers to be extra cautious during closing time.
Officers believe the suspects are familiar with the Damascus area.
If you have any information on this crime, call the Early County Sheriff's Office at 229-723-3158. You can also go to their website and submit a tip online as well.
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