COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Convenient stores and gas stations can be a big target for perpetrators looking to rob someone, which makes for a dangerous situation for clerks who are just trying to do their jobs, like 26-year-old Dontrell Williams.
Local store clerks say that hearing about incidents like this puts them on edge, especially at night. They wish all stores would have better security measures to help prevent an innocent worker from losing their life.
“It’s sad that you can’t even go to work and try to put food on your table without having that fear factor,” said Raven Cromey, a clerk at Mr. B’s Package Store.
He was just trying to make a living just like many store clerks who say they are now on edge.
“It makes me a little more cautious being here especially at nighttime we always greet everybody when they come in the door to make sure they know we see them.”-said Raven Cromey/ Mr. B’s package store
“It’s very scary because not only am I here sometimes at night when I close, it’s very scary, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Tavores Sanford, a Texaco Gas Station clerk.
The suspect wanted for Williams’ death has not yet been identified, but police have released a surveillance photo showing the man wearing a mask, black pants and shoes, a gray hoodie and yellow safety vest.
Major J.D. Hawk with the Columbus Police Department says, unfortunately, armed robberies at convenient stores happen far too often in the community.
“You have to realize, these have been going on for years and years part of a, I guess, environment by having these stores that stay open late at night with only one or two clerks in it and nothing else is out there, it makes them vulnerable to these type robberies, but then it can happen in grocery stores that stay open late,” said Maj. Hawk.
Local store clerks say they try to have a buddy system by making sure they all stay on the lookout for any odd behavior.
They say they wish all stores would have some type of bulletproof barrier at the counter and more security.
“I feel like if that were the case, it would be a lot harder to get into that kind of altercation,” said Dominque Hoppe, who also works at Mr. B’s Package Store as a clerk.
“I feel like that’s something all convenient stores should have to protect our store clerks so nothing like this won’t happen again, ”said Sanford.
“We need security; we need overnight security,” said Brent Bible, a Shell Gas Station clerk.
Although some clerks may have someone working alongside them, they say it is getting so bad they are taking matters into their own hands.
“I’m trying to get a gun license so that way I can stay protected just in case something like that happens I can protect myself and also locking the doors around 1 o’clock in the morning and keeping them locked until 5 when it starts to get daytime outside,” said Bible.
With the help of an anonymous donor, CPD is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone to come forward with any information about Williams’ death.