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Storekeeper guns down one robber, wounds another

Originally ran here as:
"Storekeeper guns down one robber, wounds another"
by Jeff Piselli, News Editor
The Clarksville Press Register
October 29, 2001

MOON LAKE, MISSISSIPPI -- A robbery suspect was shot to death and another wounded in a shootout with a Moon Lake store owner Friday night.

The shopkeeper, Bobby Wolfe, 58, who was shot in the chest and arm, was back at work this morning at BMW's Grocery after being treated at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis.

The dead man was identified by Coahoma County Sheriff Andrew Thompson as Ronnie Cortaze Walker, 24, of 424 Front St., Lula. Coroner Scotty Meredith said Walker died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

A second suspect, identified as Licobert B. Williams, 20, of Lula, was shot in the buttocks during the botched robbery. He was listed in good condition this morning at Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center.

Two other suspects were in jail with charges pending, Thompson said. The incident began at about 10:30 p.m. Friday when Wolfe, who has owned the store for 7 years, was closing for the night.

"I walked out and was locking the door when one of them came from around the icebox in front of the store and said, 'Give me your money, mother ... .' He had a gun in his hand, and the other hand was over his face," Wolfe said this morning. At that point, the storekeeper dropped to the ground and pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his pocket.

Wolfe said he's not sure if he or Walker fired first.

Thompson, whose office is investigating the shootings, said he believes the dead man started the gunfight.

"We think the robbers shot first and Mr. Wolfe returned fire," the sheriff said.

After trading shots with Walker, Wolfe said, he turned and ran toward his nearby home. As he reached the other side of the store's facade, another suspect appeared from around another icebox and began firing at Wolfe.

"I almost ran into him. I thought it was the same guy and that he had just run all the way around the store," said Wolfe. "He shot two or three times, and I shot one more time."

When the shooting was over, Walker was dead. Wolfe had been shot in the arm and was carrying a bullet in his chest that doctors said passed through his lung, nicked an artery and lodged under his shoulder blade.

In spite of his injuries he was able to make it home and call for assistance. "By the grace of God, we had a deputy less than a minute away from the store," Thompson said. "He had just passed it and turned around. He was there within a minute."

Deputy Mario Magsby passed a red Nissan Altima with three male occupants coming from the direction of the store. Magsby called for another unit to intercept the vehicle while he raced to the scene of the shooting.

"When we stopped the Nissan about four or five minutes later, we discovered that one of the occupants had been shot," Thompson said.

Arrested with Williams were Frederick Monroe, 24, of 138 O'Briant Alley, Lula, and Christopher Dotson, 18, also of Lula, according to Thompson. All face charges of armed robbery, while Williams may face additional charges. Wolfe said the suspects were regular patrons of his store.

"I had every one of them in here the other day. That's the reason, I'm sure, they intended to kill me, because they know I'd recognize them. They'd come in to get gas and cigarettes all the time," Wolfe said.

The storekeeper said Memphis doctors have decided for now not to remove the bullet in his shoulder because of its location.

"They said it would be more dangerous to take it out than to leave it in there, but I have to go back in two or three weeks so they can make sure it's not moving around and there are no blood clots or anything," he said.

Asked if his near brush with death would change the way he lives, he said, "Yeah, I ain't gonna stay open as late."

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