TAMPA, Florida - A Tampa man who was on the job just trying to make a living was robbed and shot to death Sunday morning just as the store he helped manage was opening to customers, according to Tampa police.
Lt. Ronald McMullen with the Tampa Police Department says it happened around 9 a.m. at the Family Dollar Store at 4900 North 40th Street in Tampa.
Detectives say an armed suspect walked into the store and demanded money from an employee behind the counter. A second man, who was inside the office, saw the robbery taking place and ran out to help his co-worker. The suspect then shot the intervening employee, 49-year-old Horsley Shorter Jr., who is a retired 26-year Army Veteran. Lt. McMullen says he was in management at the store.
Shorter Jr. was transported to Tampa General Hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Investigators say the suspect then forced the other employee at gunpoint out to his vehicle, opened the trunk, and ordered the employee to get inside. The employee pleaded with him and the suspect eventually closed the trunk and stole the car.
Detectives say the suspect took off in a white, 4-door Mitsubishi Mirage with Florida license plate AMZN75. It has a "Save the Ta-Tas" breast cancer sticker on the trunk and a Sonic air freshner hanging from the rear view mirror.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20's, with a thin build. They say he has a dark complexion and was wearing a black beanie, a long-sleeved thermal shirt, long shorts, dark blue boxers, and low white socks.
If you recognize the suspect or you've seen the vehicle, you may be eligible for a cash reward. The public is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or text a tip to CSTB 274637.
Tampa police said earlier in the day they were looking for two suspects, but Sunday night they said they were only looking for one suspect.
Meanwhile, regular customers who live nearby and shop at the store often say they're stunned by Shorter Jr.'s death. With tears streaming down her face, Tamika Jones said, "We all family around here. We all come to Family Dollar all day, every day. He was always nice. You couldn't ask for a better person."
Lannesha Drayton says she's stops off at the store just about every day when she gets off work, but today she didn't. She said, "I mean, I don't understand why people are out doing ridiculous stuff, but they need to stop the violence. For a couple of dollars it's not worth it."