GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Friends and loved ones say a retired sheriff's deputy was doing what he did most of his life – protecting others – when a gunman shot and killed him Wednesday night.
Felix Cosme, 63, was killed inside an O’Reilly Auto Parts store along Hamilton Mill Road in Buford.
Police believe the gunman sat in the parking lot in his car waiting for the perfect time to follow an employee into the store.
Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas said customers have been paying their respects outside the closed store Thursday for Cosme.
One man left flowers and a note.
“Basically speaking, we are here if you need us. And left my address and my phone number and name,” said Christopher Watts, who said he stops by the store at least twice a week.
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Watts told Thomas he drove by Wednesday night and saw the cops but didn't realize the employee who always helped him had been murdered.
“It just broke me down,” Watts said.
Cosme began working at the store after a long career in law enforcement. He retired from the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office in 2015.
“He was very highly regarded, highly respected and a good-hearted person,” said Gwinnett County Deputy Shannon Volkadov.
Gwinnett County police say Cosme was working in the back of the store when a robber confronted an employee, telling her to open the cash register.
Cosme pulled a gun, but the robber shot him first.
The other employee wasn't hurt when the robber got into his car and sped away. Police are still trying to identify him.
“I still can't believe what happened. He would have done anything for anyone,” said David Pechillo. “They were my friends. They deserve that kind of respect.”
Joe Ferrel placed a cross on the closed store's front door. He had a message for the killer.
“God judges, and I know he ain’t going north,” Ferrel told Thomas.
Cosme's roommate and two sisters who live in metro Atlanta were too distraught to talk publicly Thursday.
It’s not lost on Cosme’s former colleagues at the jail that he died just hours before the start of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
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