No charges filed against store owner; investigation continuing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2010

Charges have not been filed against a Vicksburg grocery store owner who exchanged gunshots with two armed robbery suspects on the U.S. 61 South-Interstate 20 overpass Thursday night, police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

“According to his own admission, he was chasing them in his vehicle to get a tag number,” Armstrong said Saturday evening.

The owner of La Chiquita grocery store, 4002 U.S. 61 South, told police he fired in self-defense after being shot at by the two suspects who had just held store clerks and patrons at gunpoint, Armstrong said. The case is still under investigation, the chief said.

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Both men, described as Hispanic, were wearing ski masks, police said. One carried a handgun, and the other held an SKS assault rifle.

A woman clerk was hit in the head with the rifle before the men fled the scene in a white 1993 Toyota Corolla and crashed on the bridge over U.S. 61 South.

“It is evident (the store owner) was being fired upon because there are bullet holes in his vehicle from a weapon other than his,” Armstrong said.

The store owner was not injured but did fatally wound one of the suspects who jumped from the overpass, police said.

As of Saturday night, officials had not released the identity of the dead suspect, a 24-year-old whose body was found by a passerby beneath the bridge at about 6:15 a.m. Friday.

“We have made attempts but have not notified the next of kin,” said Armstrong.

Officials said they received the call to the store at about 8:41 p.m. Thursday after the two men took jewelry, CDs and an undisclosed amount of money from the store, as well as a wallet and cash from a customer.

Police said evidence from the store linked the dead suspect to violent robbery.

The search for the second man, identified as a person of interest, continued Saturday night, the chief said.

“We’ve advised local hospitals in case he shows up,” the chief said.

Contact Tish Butts at