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A gas station clerk allegedly kicked his customer out of his store, aimed a pistol at his forehead through the locked doors and fired a shot through the glass, striking him in the forehead and killing him — over a pack of beef jerky.
Prosecutors said the clerk became enraged when the customer pocketed the jerky and took matters into his own hands, taking it out of the man’s pocket and putting it back on the shelf. When the customer tried to pay for it, the clerk refused to accept his money.
It all happened in the predawn hours Monday at a Mobile gas station in Detroit.
The clerk, Moad Mohamed Al-Gaham, 40, is charged with first-degree murder and a felony firearm violation in the killing of the unarmed Anthony McNary, 25, prosecutors said.
Detroit police officers were dispatched to the gas station store on a call of a reported shooting at 3:14 a.m. Once there, officers found McNary lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the forehead. McNary died at a hospital.
The killing came less than a month after another similar incident — over a declined $4 charge — at another Detroit gas station, the second time in recent weeks that police officials have closed down a gas station where a homicide occurred because it had been operating without a license, Detroit Police Chief James White said during a briefing outside the shuttered business on Monday, the Detroit News reported.
“If you told me that two cases involving gas stations, early morning hours, locked doors and shootings would happen here in Detroit in the span of a month, I would not have believed that,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in remarks aired by Detroit’s NBC affiliate WDIV. “He held it in the direct line of the defendant’s forehead, directly in the middle of the forehead, and then fatally shot him.”
Al-Gaham was arraigned and remanded to jail. A probable cause conference is scheduled for June 22, and a preliminary examination is scheduled for June 29.
The earlier gas station shooting happened after a dispute over a $4 purchase in the predawn hours on May 6.
In that incident, clerk Al-Hassan Aiyash, 22, locked customers inside his store after a $4 purchase by Samuel Anthony McCray was declined, and McCray tried to leave with unpurchased items, authorities said.
The three innocent customers repeatedly pleaded with Aiyash to let them out, and kicked, pushed, and pulled at the doors — and offered to pay for the iced tea and doughnuts McCray tried to walk out with, the Detroit Free Press reported.
But McCray became agitated, argued with Aiyash and pulled a gun.
Unknown to the three men, Aiyash pushed a security button to unlock the door but failed to tell the men seconds before McCray allegedly began shooting at the three men, killing Gregory Kelly and injuring the two other customers, officials said. Kelly died at the scene.
McCray was charged on May 10 with first-degree murder, two counts of assault with intent to murder, and three counts of felony firearm and felon in possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.
Aiyash was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors alleged he caused the death by committing a grossly negligent act by “intentionally locking the door to the only available exit and preventing Mr. Kelly from escaping a dangerous situation where a customer was threatening to commit an act of violence.”
“The allegations of the defendant locking the door of the store and not heeding the pleas of the men to be released led to tragic consequences in this case,” said Worthy.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
An attorney for Aiyash, Jamil Khuja, told the Detroit Free Press the charge against his client is a reach by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and Detroit police.
“Their theory is to hold him responsible, criminally responsible for the intentional crime that’s committed by somebody else who he does not know,” Khuja said. “I’ve never seen this before.
“He was just working there as a clerk to help provide for his family. He was doing his job. Did he panic and maybe act inappropriately in a way, maybe. But that’s the best that (prosecutors) can argue here.”
One of the other customers has filed a lawsuit in the case, alleging negligence.
“Locking three innocent people inside of a building with a person threatening to shoot them over $4 shows a complete disregard for human life over profit,” the customer’s attorney, James Harrington, said in a statement, Houston’s ABC13 reported. “This store clerk was obviously trained to lock the door and protect the gas station’s assets at all costs.”
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