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Teen arrested for killing store owner

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR)—  Henrico police arrested a teenager suspected in Monday night’s robbery-turned-homicide at the Expressway Convenience Store at 3523 Mechanicsville Turnpike that claimed the life of its well-liked owner, 64-year-old Farooq M. Bhimdi.

Jamon Burroughs, 19, has been charged with First Degree Murder and Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony.

A SWAT team entered an apartment in the 3800 block of Howard Street – not far from the convenience store – and apprehended Burroughs at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, a high-ranking Henrico police source told CBS 6.

Monday’s shooting was discovered at about 9:30 p.m. when police received a 911 distress call. The store was known to have a security camera system.

A police source said Bhimdi was shot multiple times after the gunman demanded money but the longtime store owner refused to hand it over.

By Tuesday morning, a makeshift memorial was set up outside the store. By dusk, dozens of customers and friends who had known Bhimdi for years had gathered, many of them holding candles and shedding tears.

“Anybody that did that probably does not know him at all because they know he kept a monitor in there all the time,” Morrow said.  “I’m just sad this happened.  It was a great loss to our community and I know for sure a lot of people are going to miss him.”

The arrest was made just a few blocks away from where the shooting occurred. 

Bhimdi  knew he was in a risky business.

He had been robbed before, customers said. And a previous store in Fulton Bottom had been robbed numerous time and a clerk – customers believe he was a relative – was shot and paralyzed in 1992 and later died.

And Bhimdi was known to have a pistol close at hand.

And yet, the man many called customers Mr. Bean because of his resemblance to the actor, ran his business with a joy that rubbed off on his customers – friends, really.

Bhimdi joins a long list of convenience store owners and clerks, many of them from Asia, gunned down in metro Richmond while trying to make an honest living. Jabbar, Patel, Anwar, Rush, Khan, Cho are just a few of their names.

Their names are a small portion of the list that has made convenience and grocery store work among the most dangerous in the land, month after month, year after year.

While loggers, fishermen and truckers die more often at work, when you look at those murdered on the job, these kinds of store cashiers, clerks and owners top the list. More of them are slain than police officers and guards, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (A good chart here: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/work_hom.pdf)

This phenomenon has been carefully studied and ways to improve safety have become well known, including well-lit exteriors, not having the windows blocked, and not having just one person tending the store. (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/awards/hamilton/pdfs/hum_19.pdf)

Bhimdi’s storefront was poorly lit , his windows were largely filled with signs and neon, and he often worked alone, say those who knew him and worked with him previously.

“One thing about Mr. Farooq,” said former store worker and longtime friend Clifton Jones,  “he said ‘I’m not scared of death. I’m here to make an honest living.’ And he was a man who prayed all the time.”

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