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Suspect shot and killed during robbery attempt
Police believe shooting will be ruled a justifiable homicide.

By Paula Reed Ward
Savannah Morning News
January 28, 2001

A man armed with a brick was shot and killed Saturday afternoon as he tried to rob a westside business.

Johnny Tyson, 39, entered Lin's Super Market at 2401 Montgomery St. about 5:20 p.m. carrying a brick, police said. He allegedly hit the store owner, Xiao Ming Lin, in the face, knocking him to the floor.

As Tyson reportedly jumped the counter to get to the cash drawer, Lin's son, who also works at the store, fired multiple shots, said Lt. Richard Zapal.

"You're supposed to protect yourself. If he went in there to rob him, he deserved to be shot."

Tyson died at the scene.

Lin, who had a bandage on the left side of his forehead, was treated at the scene and then taken to police barracks to give a statement.

"We're looking at justifiable homicide," Zapal said. "Right now, we're not looking at any charges."

Robert Walker, 79, who lives on Googe Street, was in Lin's Super Market buying peanut butter/malt cookies and diet soda when the shooting occurred.

"I was all the way in the back of the store. I heard it, but I didn't see anything," Walker said.

He was also taken to the police department to give a statement and then was brought back to his vehicle about an hour later.

Maj. Willie Lovett, the commander of the criminal investigations division, said in these situations, it's often not the suspect's first crime.

The death of Johnny Tyson is the 6th homicide in the city this year. However, this shooting is expected to be ruled justifiable homicide, and charges are not likely to be sought. There were two homicides in the city at this time last year.
"It's a tragedy when anyone gets killed, even in a robbery attempt," Lovett said. "But people have the right to protect their property and themselves."

Many of the spectators gathered on West 40th Street agreed.

"You're supposed to protect yourself. If he went in there to rob him, he deserved to be shot," said Marie Filler, who lives a block away from the store.

The shooting Saturday came just three days after Shady's Discount Gas and Food owner, Michael Lane, was shot during a robbery as he was closing his store.

Lane died from his injuries this week.

To find out more on the earlier shooting, Filler stopped in the Lins' store Saturday morning to buy a newspaper.

"I said to Lin, 'Keep your eyes open.' I told him that no longer than this morning, and this is what happened this evening."

On Wednesday, Lin's son spoke with the Savannah Morning News about the Shady's robbery.

His family has owned the store for six years and was robbed twice in the past, he said. To combat the dangers, he said they close in the early evening and have installed security cameras and several mirrors throughout the store.

"You don't want to risk your life for the business," he said.

Anna Patterson grew up in the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood and often shopped at the Lins' store.

"Mr. Lin and his family, they're extremely nice people," Patterson said. "It sure will make these people think twice before they go in and rob them.

"This neighborhood is getting so bad. It hasn't always been like this," Patterson said. "It makes a shame of Brownsville."

Crime and public safety reporter Paula Reed Ward can be reached at 652-0360 or at

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