Alan Ahamd was standing near the glass front door of a convenience store when he heard gun shots and saw a customer stumble to his death.
The man said “Help me. Help me,” said Ahamd, 56, a clerk at University Market, a store and gas station at 1108 W. Chapel Hill St. just west of downtown.
Police later identified the man as Raiford Matthews Jr., 34, of Durham. No arrests had been made as of Monday evening.
Ahamd said the man had come into the store almost every day for the past month.
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“He’s a nice guy,” Ahamd said.
Matthews came in at about noon Monday, bought a soda and went around the side of the building, Ahamd said.
Next Ahamd heard about five pops before he saw Matthews walking back toward the store’s glass doors, slowly collapsing in the parking lot.
“It happened like that,” Ahamd said, snapping his finger.
Monday’s shooting was Durham’s 37th homicide this year, compared with a 12-month total of 22 in 2014 and 30 in 2013.
University Market, which has been around more than 25 years, is across the street from the Durham Co-op Market, which opened in March, and between the Quick Meal, a Mediterranean restaurant, and TMAC, which stands for Tint Masters Auto Center. University Market is less than a half a mile from the police department headquarters and a few blocks from downtown.
People stood behind yellow crime scene tape as investigators gathered evidence and the body lay in the parking lot shielded by some tarps. They expressed surprise that the shooting had happened in the middle of the day in an active part of the city.
TMAC employee Javon Carrington said he had just walked over to the University Market, bought some iced tea, returned to the auto center and started working on a car when he heard about six shots and then a woman screaming. A handful of people at the tire store ran for cover, said Carrington, 31, who ducked into a back room.
Ali Alsaras, who has owned University Market for 25 years and was checking out customers when the shooting occurred, said about three people were in the store when he heard about five shots. Alsaras and Ahamd said they didn’t see the shooting occur or anyone run or drive off as it happened on the side of the market out of their view.
Investigators ask anyone with information to call 919-560-4440, ext. 29337, or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases, and callers never have to identify themselves.