By Ed Brock
Reality hit hard for store owner Derrell Thomas when he saw the man who had sold him lunch many times bleeding on the sidewalk after a double shooting.
Thomas, part owner of Venus Exotic Fashions in the Windemere Shopping Center on Ga. Highway 138 in Riverdale, tried to comfort one victim of the Thursday afternoon shooting that occurred at the Salt and Pepper Fish House two doors down from his shop.
"He was saying, 'Don't let me die, man,'" Thomas said.
Another employee of the Salt and Pepper was already dead inside the restaurant. Around 12:10 p.m. a witness called 911 after she saw two men run from the restaurant and get into a black Jeep Cherokee, Riverdale Assistant Police Chief Samuel Patterson said. Patterson did not release the names of the wounded victim or the man who had been shot to death inside the restaurant, saying only that they were employees.
"We don't know the motive. We think it's possibly robbery," Patterson said.
However, the cash register at the restaurant did not appear to have been disturbed, Patterson said.
The suspects drove away going east on Highway 138. Gwinnett County police found the Cherokee at the home of the owner in Lawrenceville some time later but the suspects had left in a Toyota RAV-4 owned by the same person who owns the Cherokee, Patterson said.
Police are still trying to determine if the owner of the Cherokee and the RAV-4 knew about the robbery.
The wounded man, believed to be a clerk, stumbled outside and collapsed in front of another business next door. The dead man, possibly a cook, was found inside. Patterson said the wounded man, who was flown to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment, was shot three times.
Investigators were not certain if the cook was shot once with a large caliber gun or several times with a small caliber gun. Patterson said it was a close-contact wound. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was processing the crime scene.
Crowds of onlookers stopped their cars on the side of Highway 138 or walked over from nearby stores to watch the action. In front of the health food store where the wounded man collapsed streaks of blood marked the sidewalk.
Thomas said the wounded victim had been shot in the face and possibly in the back. He didn't know the man personally, but during the two months that he was setting up his store Thomas frequently bought lunch at the fish house.
It is disturbing for something like that to happen so close to his business, Thomas said.
"But I know things happen every where," Thomas said. "It's just reality and reality is so shocking."
Tony Brown, owner of G. Brown Interiors in the building next to the one containing Salt and Pepper Fish House, said the wounded victim had designed his company's Web site.
"He's just a simple guy, a quiet guy," Brown said.