David Bogar began to cry as he spoke outside the Joy Mart on North Roxboro Street where his friend, Amer Mahmood, was shot to death July 4.
Bogar, 30, and Mahmood’s family used to live in the same neighborhood in Cary. Bogar and his son Connor, now 8, would eat with Mahmood, his wife and two children several times a week. “We ate hot dogs at the pool a lot,” Connor said.
On Thursday, Bogar, a single dad, joined about 50 people at a prayer vigil to remember Mahmood held by the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham. Police say Mahmood, 48, was killed during an armed robbery at the store where he worked.
As cars and trucks rumbled by on the noisy road, friends, clergy and people who didn’t know the convenience store clerk bowed their heads in the parking lot and briefly spoke about the man who many said spent every waking hour providing for his family.
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“He didn’t care about himself,” Bogar said afterward, his eyes puffy and red.
“Most people wouldn’t sacrifice what he sacrificed,” he said. “Most people wouldn’t go through 96 hours a week literally working all but the time you sleep just so your wife and kids can have everything they want and need.
“He told me every time I talked with him ‘My kids mean the world to me.’”
Two people who called 911 to report a robbery said a man pulling a red shirt over his face with one hand and holding a gun in the other fired several shots as he walked into the store at 2109 N. Roxboro St. The gunman ordered customers to leave or he would shoot them, they said.
The man, later determined to be Dmarlo Johnson, 26, of Durham, then pointed the gun at Mahmood and demanded money, police said. Mahmood took the drawer from the cash register, placed it on the counter and put his hands in the air, police said. Johnson then walked around the counter and shot Mahmood twice. He fired another shot after Mahmood fell to the floor, police said.
Police found Mahmood on the floor behind the counter unconscious. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Some at the vigil said Johnson was a regular customer.
Shelley Reaves, who said she stopped by Joy Mart every day, said she had seen Johnson but never even heard him raise his voice, “which is what’s shocking.”
Customer Clarence Trice, in an interview last week, said that about a week and a half before the shooting, Mahmood told him he had caught Johnson stealing cigars and told him not to come back again.
“It wasn’t just a holdup,” said Reaves, who lives down the road. “It was more of a vendetta.”
A patrol car video shows Johnson removing a handgun from his waistband and firing at officers, according to police. When the officers returned the gunfire, Johnson ran onto North Roxboro Street, where he was shot and fell to the ground. Police found a 9 mm handgun they think Johnson used to shoot Mahmood and at police.
Police gunfire struck Johnson in his left collarbone, left knee and left foot. He was treated at the hospital and charged with murder and is being held in the Durham County jail without bail.
Mahmood’s widow and children are in New York and did not attend the vigil. The family had temporarily separated when they fell on financial hard times and were making plans to reunite when Mahmood was killed.
In an email that coalition director Marcia Owen read at the vigil, his widow, Carolyn Mahmood, talked about losing her “best friend.”
“Amer was not just a clerk at a store,” Carolyn Mahmood wrote. “He was a loyal and honest man who was loved very much by me and his children, as well as his family overseas.
“Amer having the purest of hearts did not just suddenly become known just because of his death on July 4th,” she continued. “The fact is, everyone knew Amer was such a good person in his everyday life – even through small interactions with people, his kind and caring nature was evident. ... I cannot express the grief and despair we feel. The pain is sometimes unbearable when I think of how senseless this was and how unfair. Amer avoided conflict, it was his way. He always did whatever he could to keep the peace. That to me, is a trait we should all possess.”
Reaves, a retired nurse, said a friend of hers saw Mahmood’s everyday kindness after a hard day at work.
“He asked what was wrong,” the friend told her. “He made a napkin; he had drawn a picture of a flower on it. He wrote on it it ‘If no one else loves you, God loves you and so do I.’”
How to help
If you would like to help the family of convenience store clerk Amer Mahmood, go to www.gofundme.com/foramerskids