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Store owner shoots two armed robbers
They are in the hospital; he's back at work.

Originally ran here as:
Store owner defends shooting men
Friday, March 9, 2001
by Dean Narciso, Police Reporter
The Columbus Dispatch -- "Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper"

Special Note: We heartily praise both the Dispatch and Mr. Narciso for excellent reporting, indeed.


Of the dozens of customers buying snacks, beer or lottery tickets yesterday morning at the Walford Market, not one criticized Clive Weidle for defending his business the night before with a 9 mm handgun.

"I absolutely support Clive in what he did,'' said Carol Reed, 55, who lives near the store. "Clive will do anything in the world for you. He's the nicest man.''

"My hero!'' another customer shouted as he came into the store at 3981 Walford St., about a half-mile south of Morse Road and west of Cleveland Avenue. "They ain't gonna do this again any time soon.''

The customers praised Weidle for shooting two men who he said had tried to rob him. It was the second such robbery in a week at his Clinton Township business. Both occurred at about 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

"When they walked in this time, I was almost certain it was the same two guys,'' Weidle said. "I felt my life was in danger.''

Police were not releasing details about the shooting or commenting on Weidle's action, saying the investigation was continuing. No one had been charged by yesterday afternoon.

Michael Thomas, 20, was listed in fair condition at Riverside Methodist Hospitals with a gunshot wound to the right arm. Eric Liddell, 23, was shot in the chest and was in fair condition at Grant Medical Center. Neither man could be reached yesterday for comment.

"We're looking at these guys for maybe some other robberies,'' said Chief Deputy Steve Martin of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

Weidle said two men, one masked and carrying a handgun, stormed into the business Wednesday night and ordered customers and a part- time worker to lie on the floor.

"I have a button right here. I didn't even have the presence to hit it,'' Weidle said of the store's alarm.

He did, however, reach for his gun.

"Why wait for him to shoot when I should shoot?'' Weidle asked, standing behind the counter yesterday near the cash register.

He said he fired several rounds at the men, who turned and fled.

The remains of the confrontation were evident yesterday.

Inside a glass display case hit by one of Weidle's shots, shards of glass sprinkled a selection of ice-cream bars. Another tore into the store's metal front door.

A shattered beer case might have taken a bullet when one of the would-be robbers returned fire, Weidle said.

He said robbery of his store on Feb. 28 was one reason he decided to use his gun Wednesday night. In the earlier robbery, two masked men ambushed Weidle while he was in the store's restroom.

"They had a gun right to my head. What are you going to do?'' he said. Weidle couldn't get to his gun.

"They cleaned me out,'' he said.

Detectives interviewed other robbery victims at other stores yesterday looking for similarities.

The working-class neighborhood has had its share of robberies recently, including a fatal shooting at another convenience store, officials said.

On Dec. 7, Abdul Hemeed, a Pakistani immigrant, was killed during a holdup at the Convenient Store Plus, 4197 Cleveland Ave., just a few blocks from Walford Market. Hemeed was not a store employee but was helping a clerk stock shelves.

Walford Market was the scene of a fatal shooting Aug. 14, 1995, when clerk Patricia Collins was killed during a robbery. Gabriel Artis Jr. is serving a 17- to 50-year sentence and Rico Cooper a life term for their roles in the robbery-murder.

Although he acknowledges the risk involved in running the store, Weidle has no plans to quit.

"You try to do an honest job, 70-80 hours a week, six days a week, and then this happens,'' he said. "This is America. What are you gonna do?''

Weidle, 40, moved his wife and three children from Calcutta, India, six years ago to escape the poverty of his homeland and to sample American capitalism.

Prosperity and a growing family drew him to Columbus.

"I like the job. This is all I know,'' he said.

Dan Couts, one of his vendors, attributed Weidle's success at the market to his competitive pricing and, more so, his customer service.

"From a profit standpoint, the business has probably increased tenfold since he's taken it over,'' said Couts, who was arranging a cigarette display.

Now Weidle's on edge whenever someone comes in the door.

"It's always like I'm tense. Who's walking in the door, what are they going to do?'' he said.

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