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From: Colleen Daughey on 30 May 2010 00:45
A man who was killed during a robbery at a local convenience store
early Friday was shot in the head “assassination-style,” according to
Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry.
A security camera video of the robbery and shooting at B.G.'s Express #2
in the Chatham Heights area showed a man “murdered the store clerk in
the back corner of the store,” Perry said. “There was no threat, no
resistance” by the clerk.
The sheriff's office has identified the clerk that was killed as Nirmal
Singh, 57, of Chatham Heights Road.
The shooting was “one of the last acts before they fled the store,”
Perry said of three suspects. “It was a completely malicious act. It was
one of the most senseless things I have ever seen before. There was no
reason to have to do that.”
The perpetrators remained at large on Saturday, and Perry worried that
they could strike again because of the violent nature of the crime.
“There is an urgency, and we need the public's help to solve this,” he
said. “I am very concerned that this is not the end of their acts if
they are not apprehended.”
On Saturday afternoon, he said he feels the suspects still are in the
area or region. “Until they are stopped, there is a real potential it
could happen again,” he added.
Perry said officers have been “trying to beat to the bushes and follow
leads” to corroborate and verify information and tips that have been
received. He said there have been several tips on the Crimestoppers
line, “and it appears to be good information.”
He also said that on Friday night officers did a road check and
canvassed the area, which were “productive” efforts.
People in the community are “moved and stirred” by the incident, Perry said.
Asked how police investigate a case in which the suspects' faces were
concealed and they escaped on foot, Perry said that with information
coming forward from people who have heard things or who have
information, he believes obstacles can be overcome.
The incident began around midnight Friday when three men, all wearing
dark-colored bandanas over their faces, entered the store and shooting
began, Perry said.
Multiple shots were fired and both clerks were wounded shortly after the
three went into the store, he said.
One of the wounded men, clerk William David Thomas, 78, locked himself
in another room, Perry said.
The second clerk, Singh, also was wounded and was seen in the video as
he “started going around to the back of the store. He was trying to
hide” from the three men, Perry said.
He made his way to a back corner of the store and crouched there before
he was shot in the head by one of the suspects, the sheriff said the
A sheriff's office news release described that suspect as a black male
dressed in a dark, possibly charcoal gray hoodie with white letters on
the chest area, dark pants and white tennis shoes.
He was armed with “a large-caliber hunting rifle and shoots the clerk
assassination-style” in the head, Perry said. The video “was probably
one of the most shock-sensing videos I've ever seen. It was very abrupt
and very quick.”
Between the time when the clerks were wounded and Singh was killed, the
suspects took possession of an undisclosed amount of cash, cigarettes
and Blunt cigars, Perry said the video showed.
After Singh was shot, the trio fled the store on foot, Perry said
Friday. The entire incident was over within 30 to 45 seconds, he said.
Thomas was shot at least twice, a sheriff's office release stated. He
was in critical condition at Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, a
nursing supervisor said Saturday afternoon.
The Virginia State Police, Martinsville Police Department and EMI
Imaging are helping county investigators with the case, Perry said. Law
enforcement agencies in surrounding counties have offered help, Perry
said, adding that they will be called in if needed.
According to a sheriff's office release, the other two suspects are
• A light-skinned male of unknown race, with long curly hair. He was
wearing a dark hoodie, white gloves, faded jeans and solid white tennis
• A black male wearing a long-sleeved black T-shirt, dark gloves, ball
cap with white letters on the front, dark pants and dark shoes.
“We don't know if the motive was some sort of statement, or if it was
gang-related” because of some aspects of the incident, Perry said
Friday. He declined to elaborate.
However, “there was the intent of robbery and it almost seemed they had
the intent to harm the victims. ... It was very quick and very
specific,” the sheriff said.
“We feel there were probably other weapons with the suspects, but the
only one we can confirm at this point of the investigation is the
large-caliber hunting rifle,” Perry said.
He declined to identify the caliber.
Police also hope to talk to the operator of a black SUV, possibly a
Chevrolet Suburban, which had stopped at the store and made a purchase
shortly before the incident began.
The security video also showed that many vehicles traveled along the
Chatham Heights Road, Old Chatham Heights Road and/or Clearview Drive
around the time of the incident.
Perry urged anyone in the area at that time to call police.
“Even if someone saw something that doesn't seem important to them,” he
said it could help investigators. “Even if someone saw something as
simple as shadows running, we definitely want to talk to them.”
The store's owner, Jagirsingh Bains, known as “JJ” to friends and
customers, also hopes police are able to find and charge the men
responsible. Bains said he has owned the store for six to eight of the
nine years he has lived in Henry County.
Bains said Singh started working in the store some time this month. The
two had been friends since childhood, growing up in India, and they were
Thursday night, Bains had left the store to go home before the incident
Charlotte Lester, who was in the neighborhood at the time, said she did
not hear shots fired. However, she did see the police cars, “and I heard
Lester said a man was yelling and that someone was banging on the door
of Bains' home, near the store.
As Bains stood across the street Friday morning, watching investigators
process the scene and collect evidence, passing customers often stopped
their vehicles and got out to chat with and console him.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Henry County
Sheriff's Office at 638-8751, 911, a local law enforcement agency or
Crimestoppers at 632-7463.
Rewards of up to $1,000 are available through the Crimestoppers Program,
which offers money for information related to crimes.
The nature of the crime and the substance of the information provided
determine the amount of reward paid.