DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities are investigating the year’s first officer-involved shooting after police said a when a robber walked into a DeKalb County liquor store, shooting at customers and workers.
The owner of the store told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr that he called to thank his security guard for shooting and stopping the man, who later died.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the incident.
Elias Gabi and his family told Carr that, in the decade they have owned Big John’s package store, this is the first time a shooting has happened there.
On the front door, you can see where a bullet from the officer's gun went through. There is another bullet hole in the window right above the area where the man collapsed.
“Very thankful. That's why we hire the officers to protect the customers,” Gabi said about the incident.
Authorities confirm the guard was an off-duty Pine Lake Police Department officer who opened fire on the man in the middle of the crowded DeKalb County liquor store just after 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
“I'm behind the cash register helping a customer out. Guy comes in, points a gun at me, says, 'Everybody get down.' I don't think he had a chance to get the whole word out," employee Ture Ayanno said.
Surveillance video from inside the store shows the officer rise from his seat in the back of the store and return fire as the man knocked over a customer and ran out the door.
The man collapsed outside the store and was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital on Tuesday.
“You've never seen this guy before?” Carr asked Ayanno.
“No, just from watching the video it shows he's probably never been here before. 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.
Because of the guard's full-time job as a police officer, the GBI has opened its first officer-involved shooting investigation of 2019.
“I appreciate him taking care of business. Could have been much worse,” Gabo said.
The family-owned business said it hires security for days when it expects the store to be crowded. It said the holiday investment is worth every penny.
“Definitely saved us from a lot of casualties and we're thankful for that,” Ayanno said.
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