The door at the Fast Food Mart stays locked most nights unless there is a customer, manager Tekin Guler says.
But around 11 p.m. Wednesday, a customer was already inside the convenience store at 2106 Broad St. So when a masked man with a gun walked up to the door, there was nothing to stop the robbery that claimed the life of one clerk, a father of six, and resulted in the shooting of another.
The fatal shooting of Jala Nafez, 57, marked the 14th homicide in Durham this year and the second this week.
The injured 48-year-old clerk marks the ninth non-fatal shooting this week and the 67th this year.
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Interim Police Chief Larry Smith said the department “has all hands on deck on this,” targeting 22 people it thinks are actively involved in the violence.
In January, Smith and other city leaders gathered at Police Headquarters and said violent crime was the top priority. That announcement followed seven shooting victims in the first week of 2016.
Then the Police Department announced it was targeting 19 individuals it knew were committing violent crimes. Most of those people have been arrested, Smith said Thursday. Five remain among the 22 being followed now.
Robberies are driving the recent shootings, Smith said.
Drugs are the most common denominator behind the homicides.
“Many of (the suspects) have a gang background, but the driving factor of the homicides seems to be narcotic sales or turf wars,” Smith said.
Last year there were 42 homicides in Durham, nearly twice the 22 recorded in 2014.
In addition, 198 people in Durham were shot or suffered shooting related injuries last year, more than double the 95 shooting victims in 2014.
On Tuesday, City Manager Tom Bonfield announced that Atlanta Deputy Police Chief Cerelyn J. Davis will be Durham’s next top cop. As Davis comes on board in June, the city also expects to release a consultant’s report evaluating Police Department resources and policies.
Guler, the Fast Food Mart manager, wasn’t in the store at the time, but learned what happened by looking at camera footage and speaking with the clerk that was shot.
The robber came into the store and pointed the gun at a customer and took his wallet, Guler said. He walked around the counter and pushed the clerks toward the register.
“He’s aggressive and nervous,” Guler said. “And when he sees Nafez moving a little fast, bam, he shot him.”
The other clerk tried to grab the gun. They struggled, and the robber shot the clerk in the leg.
The clerk told Guler that the robber wanted to shoot him again, but he couldn’t.
“He shot at him, but he didn’t hit (him),” Guler said, pointing to a bullet dent in a stainless steel counter.
Other shootings this week injured three people – including a 13-year-old girl – who were shot on Danube Lane in an apparent drive-by shooting Monday night. All are in serious but stable condition, said police spokeswoman Kammie Michael.
Also on Monday, J’Corey Terrell Bailey died after he was found by police lying in the yard on Ashe Street after a 1 p.m. shooting call.
Smith said he’s proud of the work his officers are doing and that the community needs to step up.
“Anybody who is willing to come along beside us, whether its nonprofits, whether it is community members, whoever,” he said. “It is time for people other than the police to be outraged about what is going on in this city, as we are.”