Akron store owner shot as he tried to hand cash register money to suspect

AKRON -- A store owner was shot during a robbery as he tried to hand over money from the cash register. A community is now mobilizing to fight back, as police search for a suspect.

"They tried to rob the guy and he shot him," said a customer during a call to 911.

Around 3 p.m. Sunday, a customer inside Rocky's Convenience Store on Fifth Avenue in Akron called for help. He told the dispatcher a man walked into the store, tried to rob it and shot the owner.

"I'm standing in the store; the guy just put a gun to my head," explained the customer.

Akron police said the gunman also pointed a gun at the 69-year-old owner and demanded money from the register. But before the owner, known in the neighborhood as Mr. Ali, could get the money out of the register, he shot him in the abdomen and ran away.

"He's been a member of the community for as long as I can remember, so I just don't know who would want to hurt him like that," said resident Anita Johnson.

"He's friendly, so I'm not sure what could've happened, what, how anything could've happened to him like this, so I'm sad to hear this," said her son, Eddie Pickett.

Witnesses gave police a vague description of the gunman, a light-skinned black male, 18-29 years old, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. Councilwoman Tara Samples does not believe the gunman lives nearby.

"It's just not something that would happen at the hands of somebody from this neighborhood at all. This is a true neighborhood store and a family that we all know and love,” said the councilwoman.

"He's definitely a nice guy, you know, if you didn't have it, he would look out for you and just tell you to bring it next time; he's done that to me many a times," said Johnson.

The store owner was taken to Summa Akron City Hospital, where according to Samples, he was listed in serious condition.

"We need him back here, you know; a lot of us depend on this guy here because they don't have a car or transportation to make it down to Dave's, so, you know, to take somebody like that away from the people that need him in the community is selfish, very selfish," said Johnson.

The community is planning a rally across the street from the store on Wednesday at 6 p.m.