AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
One would-be robber is dead and another was taken to the hospital after attempting to rob a 7-Eleven convenience store in Virginia Beach on Thursday. According to WAVY-TV, the suspects entered the store wearing masks and with guns drawn and demanded compliance from both employees and customers.
“I just couldn’t believe it was happening,” said Barrie Engel, who was at the register at the time. “They told us not to move and they told us to stay where we were.”
The witnesses said one of the suspects went behind the counter and started taking money out of the register. The clerk reportedly told the suspects they didn’t have to do this — and that’s when the witnesses said they heard gunshots.
“I heard a gunshot, and as soon as I heard the gunshot I just fell to my knees, held my head and prayed to God that I wasn’t going to be the next shot,” Engel added.
The gunshots didn’t come from the would-be robbers, but from an armed citizen who was simply a customer waiting to check out. After the robbers were shot, another customer took the guns from the suspects, and discovered the firearms were compressed air pistols. Police say it looks like the suspects had used the air guns in the commission of several robberies over the span of just a few hours.
The Virginia Beach incident was the fourth 7-Eleven police say the robbers hit in just a matter of hours.
Police say they first stuck the store on Pacific Avenue at the Oceanfront before moving to Norfolk and taking money from stores on Chesapeake Boulevard and Virginia Beach Boulevard. The Newtown heist would be their last.
The robbers wanted their victims to believe they were armed with real guns. Unfortunately for the criminals, they got their wish, but didn’t anticipate running across a legal gun owner who wasn’t packing a pellet gun. The armed citizen’s fellow customers, on the other hand, are glad he was there.
[Barrie] Engel isn’t sure she’ll come back to that 7-Eleven, but she’s is sure glad the man she calls a hero did what he did.
“Thank God he was in here and thank God he was holding a gun,” Engel said. “He saved our lives.”
If we learn any more information about the suspects or armed citizen, we’ll try to bring you an update.