Bobby Doster tells how he and his common-law wife, Gloria Turner, fought back against robbers Monday night in the couple's Shoat's Grocery and Package Store in the community of Hutchins, near Stephens in Oglethorpe County. In the background, family friend Steve Archer, left, and son-in-law Randy Adams replace a cooler door that was damaged during the shootout. Doster and Turner said they exchanged gunfire with the two robbers after one of them shot at Doster, and both were killed.
Robbers shot dead
Athens teens killed in 'self-defense'
By Joe Johnson
HUTCHINS - Two Athens teens engaged a pair of Oglethorpe County store owners in a shootout during a botched robbery Monday afternoon and lost, both paying with their lives.
Bobby Doster and Gloria Turner said they opened fire on the robbers after one of them complained Turner was too slow in handing over money from the cash register. He turned and fired at Doster, missing the 62-year-old owner of Shoat's Grocery and Package Store at the corner of Georgia Highway 77 and Hutchins-Wolfskin Road.
When the gunman's pistol jammed while squeezing the trigger repeatedly, Doster said, he took his own gun out of his overalls and fired as both robbers ran toward the back of the store. The store owner was joined by his common-law wife of 30 years, who said she managed to get off at least two or three shots from the 9 mm handgun kept behind the counter.
The gun-wielding robber was shot and collapsed behind a meat counter at the rear of the store, and his accomplice ran into a bathroom, apparently thinking it was an exit, said Turner, who has owned the store with Doster for eight years.
When the man emerged from the bathroom, he began throwing bottles at Doster as the shop owner advanced on him, hitting Doster in the head with a bottle of soy sauce. The would-be robber then tried to turn over his mortally wounded accomplice, making the store owner think he was going for the gun that was under his friend's body.
"Hit the floor - stay on the floor and don't get up," Doster said he told the man. "He wouldn't get down, so I shot him. The way I see it, it was self-defense because they were intending to kill us. There's no doubt in my mind about that."
When sheriff's deputies arrived, one robber's body lay on top of the other, and attempts to revive them failed. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Neither robber was identified Tuesday, but after running their fingerprints through a national fingerprint data base for known offenders, they were determined to be Athens residents, one 17 years old and the other 19, according to Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith.
Authorities are withholding the identities until the teens' next of kin are notified, Smith said.
The sheriff said the Georgia tag on the robber's Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme is "bogus," and that a second tag found inside the car had a Clarke County sticker and was registered to an Athens resident. That resident was not one of the men who was shot, Smith said.
Neither of the store owners would be charged, Smith said, calling the shootings a clear case of self-defense.
Gloria Turner talks Tuesday about how she and her common-law husband Bobby Doster shot and killed two would-be robbers Monday night.
"That's what all the evidence reveals it to be," Smith said.
The drama unfolded at about 5:15 p.m., as Turner was at the front of the store, rearranging a display of Pepsi-Cola. She said one man entered with hair covering his face - which later proved to be a wig - prompting her to ask, "How do you see where you're walking?"
The second man then entered and pulled a white stocking cap over his face, showed a gun and announced a robbery, Turner said, pushing her toward the cash register at the checkout counter.
"Y'all not getting the money fast enough," Turner quoted the man as saying, at which time the other man, with the gun, turned and shot at Doster, missing him and shattering a glass beverage case.
After the man's gun jammed, Doster said he opened fire with the .380-caliber handgun he always carries, and Turner began shooting the 9 mm pistol that's usually kept in plain view behind the counter as a deterrent to would-be thieves.
In all, Doster estimated he fired seven shots, and Turner said she got off two or three rounds.
The man who had pulled the gun died of multiple gunshot wounds, Smith said, and the other died from a single gunshot.
Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith speaks in his office Tuesday about the shootout at Shoatıs Grocery and Package store.
The grocery store still was in disarray Tuesday morning, with merchandise to be re-shelved and broken glass replaced, but most of the blood had been cleaned from the floor behind the meat counter. Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents retrieved all of the fired bullets, except for one still embedded in the chrome trim on the meat counter.
The owners said they expected to re-open for business this morning.
As the clean-up continued, friends and customers of Doster and Turner came in to check on them.
"Thank God you're all right," one man said.
Steve Archer, who has been a customer of Shoat's the past three years, said the small grocery store is a place where people enjoy shooting the breeze, and that there are several people there at any given time.
Archer said he thinks the robbers cased the store before they entered, waiting until Doster and Turner were alone. Doster said he saw the men's Oldsmobile Cutlass make several passes before they entered.
Archer credited the couple for defending themselves.
"This is their business and how they make a living," he said. "They were going to give those guys the money, but when the one guy started shooting, they had no choice but to defend themselves. I don't blame Mr. Doster one bit for shooting them."
The AP version:
GA Robbers Pick Wrong Store
The Associated Press
When two men walked into a popular country store outside Atlanta, announced a holdup and fired a shot, owners Bobby and Gloria Doster never hesitated. The pair pulled out their own pistols and opened fire.
The armed suspect and his partner were killed. The Dosters won't be charged, according to local officials, because they were acting in self-defense.
"I just started shooting," said Gloria Doster, 56. "I was trying to blow his brains out is what I was trying to do."
Shoats Grocery & Package near Crawford, 70 miles east of Atlanta, is a well-known spot where locals stop for breakfast biscuits or lunch. Gloria Doster said the two men who came there Monday had something else in mind.
She was rearranging boxes of soda by the store's front door when a man wearing a wig walked inside, the fake hair draped in front of his face.
"I asked him, 'Can you see to walk?'" Doster said. Then she noticed a second man behind him wearing a mask. He announced a holdup.
One man grabbed Gloria Doster and pushed her toward the register. She said the other kept his gun on her 62-year-old husband, who also goes by the name Shoats.
She tried to open the register, but one of the men told her she wasn't moving fast enough and tried to shoot her husband. He missed - and his gun jammed.
At that point, Bobby Doster pulled out a .380-caliber handgun and shot one of the suspects. Gloria Doster then went for a 9 mm pistol she keeps near the register.
"All hell broke loose," she said. "I was trying to shoot and dial 911 at the same time."
Both suspects took cover behind the store's meat counter as the Dosters opened fire. Gloria Doster said she doesn't know how many bullets were fired, or how many times the suspects were hit.
Police arrived about five minutes after receiving Gloria Doster's call; the suspects died a short time later at a hospital.
The bloodshed, nevertheless, startled Gloria Doster, who has been around guns all her life, and has used them for target shooting. "But I never figured I'd have to use them on anybody," she said.
She said the worst thing that's happened in the seven years the couple has owned the store was an after-hours break-in by teenagers three years ago. The burglars were promptly arrested.
From the local paper today:
Teen robbers had records
By Joe Johnson
An Athens teen who was shot dead during an attempted armed robbery of a Hutchins grocery store Monday had compiled an extensive record of arrests on drug and other charges over the past year, while his younger accomplice had been arrested only once before on a lesser offense.
The youths were killed after one of them shot at 62-year-old store owner Bobby Doster, who, along with his wife Gloria Turner, returned fire with guns they kept in their store, Shoat's Grocery & Package Store at Georgia Highway 77 and Hutchins-Wolkskin Road in the Hutchins community of Oglethorpe County.
Although Oglethorpe County authorities view the slayings as a clear case of self-defense, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shootings and has yet to make a determination.
One of the dead robbers, Michael Dewand Hill, 19, of 123 Laurel Drive, Athens, was arrested three different times in March 2004 on charges of criminal trespass when found at Jack R. Wells Homes, a west Athens public housing complex where police had increased their presence to combat street sales of drugs.
Two weeks later, on March 25, Hill was arrested again, this time on Paris Street near the Rocksprings Homes housing project. He was charged with sale of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute after selling crack to an undercover Athens-Clarke police officer, according to the arrest warrant.
A bench warrant was issued by a Clarke County Superior Court judge on Tuesday because Hill failed to appear in court on the drug charge, court records show. He had been free on $7,700 bond at the time.
Hill went to jail again Oct. 9, when he was arrested at a Hawthorne Avenue residence on a charge of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, according to court records.
Hill's final arrest was on Dec. 1, on charges of criminal trespass and obstruction of a law enforcement officer after he fled from an officer who wanted to question him upon being spotted at the Jack R. Wells project.
Hill's accomplice in Monday's attempted armed robbery, 17-year-old Calvin Dantrell Ballard of 715-D Hill St. in Athens, was arrested once in Athens-Clarke County, according to court records.
Ballard was picked up on Nov. 25 after he gave a false name to Athens-Clarke police when questioned during an investigation at a Golden Pantry convenience store on West Broad Street.
Ballard drew a four-day jail sentence on the false-name charge and was released from the Clarke County Jail last week - only five days before he was killed in Hutchins.
Investigators won't say which of the two teens had been armed when they entered the store Monday, as authorities are withholding certain information as the investigation continues.
"Because this is an ongoing investigation, I cannot provide information about who was wielding the gun," said Fred Stephens, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Athens office. "Be assured that this matter is not completed. We continue to conduct interviews and search for evidence in this case. We will conduct a thorough investigation, weighing all the facts before reaching a decision on this case."
Among those decisions is whether Doster and Turner killed the men in a justified act of self-defense.
Capt. James Fulcher, chief investigator for the Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday the investigation is now completely in the GBI's hands, but added, "I don't anticipate there will be any charges, but it is still under investigation."
On Tuesday, Oglethorpe Sheriff Mike Smith said in his opinion, the double slaying appeared to have been a case of Doster and Turner defending their lives and property.
"That's what all the evidence reveals it to be," Smith said.
According to Doster and Turner, Doster's common-law wife of 30 years, Hill and Ballard entered their store at about 5:15 p.m. Monday, one wearing a wig that concealed his face and another whose face was covered by a stocking cap.
The man wearing the cap pulled a gun while the other pushed Turned toward the cash register. The gunman fired a shot at Doster when he complained that Turner was too slow in surrendering the cash.
Doster said the man tried firing several more times, but his gun jammed, so he withdrew a pistol from his pocket and began firing at the gunman as both would-be robbers ran toward the back of the store. Both Doster and Hunter said they shot at the robbers.
The gunman collapsed behind a meat counter in the back of the store and the other man ran into a bathroom, apparently thinking it was an exit, said Turner, who has owned the store with Doster for eight years.
The man came out and started throwing bottles at Doster as the shop owner advanced on him, hitting Doster in the head with a bottle of soy sauce. Doster said he thought the man was going for the gun when he tried to turn over his mortally wounded accomplice.
"'Hit the floor - stay on the floor and don't get up,'" Doster said he told the man. "He wouldn't get down, so I shot him. The way I see it, it was self-defense because they were intending to kill us. There's no doubt in my mind about that."
When sheriff's deputies arrived, one robber's body lay on top of the other, and attempts to revive them failed.