Stone Mountain, GA – An armed robber was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer during a liquor store holdup on New Year’s Eve (video below).
“That’s why we hire the officers to protect the customers,” Big John’s Package Store owner Elias Gabi told WSB. “Very thankful…Could have been much worse.”
The incident occurred at approximately 11:02 p.m., when an unidentified man with a bandana over his face barged into the liquor store and “fired a shot,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) said in a press release.
“I'm behind the cash register helping a customer out,” employee Ture Ayanno told WSB. “Guy comes in, points a gun at me, says, 'Everybody get down.'”
The off-duty Pine Lake Police Department officer was working as a security guard for the store, and rose up from his chair near the back of the store when the gunman stormed in, security footage showed.
Ayanno said he doesn’t think the assailant had even finished issuing his demands before the officer returned fire, WSB reported.
Customers inside the store ducked down as the gunman turned heel and ran back out the door, knocking a customer down in the process, the video showed.
The entire encounter transpired in mere seconds.
The suspect, who investigators are still trying to identify, collapsed outside the store, according to the GBI press release.
He was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Ayanno said he doesn’t recall having ever seen the attacker inside the store in the past.
“Just from watching the video it shows he's probably never been here before,” he told WSB. “He didn't even know which door to open. I feel like he's never been here before. I've never seen him.”
Ayanno said he was very thankful that the off-duty police officer was handling the store’s security that night.
“Definitely saved us from a lot of casualties and we’re thankful for that,” he said.
Gabi said he contacted the officer to express his appreciation for his heroic service.
No one but the gunman was injured during the altercation.
You can watch surveillance footage of the officer’s encounter with the masked gunman in the video below: