DeKalb County

Customers devastated after convenience store owner killed while leaving work

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Someone shot and killed a local store owner who customers say went out of his way to help the community.

They can't believe someone would murder such a nice man.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes went to where it happened at Tic Toc Food Mart on Evans Mill Road in Lithonia in DeKalb County. The store was closed Thursday.

The doors were locked but customers went all day to place flowers on the victims’ car and in front of the store.

They said the victim, 57-year-old Tesfaye Birru was no ordinary store owner. He was nice to everyone, respected everyone and he had a huge heart.

“If you’re short $20 and he knew you, you can get it,” customer Richard Harper said.

Harper is a regular customer at the food mart.

He many nice things to say about Birru.

“You know, when you see somebody all the time, you spend your money in the store, you want to have a relationship with them? You could have a relationship with him,” Harper said.

Police say the store owner was closing shop around 10 p.m. Wednesday, when at least one gunman approached him and shot him.

Investigators found a gun next to Birru, that he never got a chance to use.

“We just (saw) him last night when he was just here,” customer Sydney Stewart said.

Stewart said he noticed that the owner would close by himself every night and that is probably why someone tried to rob him.

He does not believe it was anyone who knew Birru because he was just too nice of a guy.

“He’s a real good dude man, a lot of people that I know, we come in this store every day, probably like six times a day,” Stewart said.

When police were collecting evidence Wednesday night, the customer said he was consoling the victim’s wife.

He thinks she is going to close the store.

“Why would she want to be here? They killed her husband right here. Why would she want to come here every morning to remember where (her) husband was killed?’ Stewart said.