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Store owner sends robbers fleeing

Published here on Monday, February 26, 2001, in the Herald-Leader as:
"Store owner in gunbattle with robber"
By Bill Estep

PIKE COUNTY, KENTUCKY -- A gunbattle during a robbery late Saturday in Pike County left a storekeeper wounded, and maybe one of the assailants as well.

Russell Hall, owner of Hall's Midnight Market at Robinson Creek, said a man armed with a pistol shot his son, Michael Hall. Russell Hall then fired several shots at the robber, which drove him away.

"We shot the place all to pieces,'' said Russell Hall, 67.

Hall said two men, one with a gun, barged into his store about 11:30 p.m. Hall keeps about 15 guns planted around the store to defend himself, but the men came in too quickly for him to grab one, he said.

Hall said the armed man, wearing a ski mask, addressed him by name and demanded his wallet.

"I thought somebody was pulling a prank on me,'' said Hall. "When he cocked that gun and stuck it in my face, I knew it wasn't a joke.''

Hall gave the robber his wallet, which contained about $2,000.

The man was yelling at his accomplice to take guns from a case in the store; Hall asked the assailant to let him get the key for the case so the man wouldn't break the glass.

As Hall started behind the counter to get the key, Michael Hall got a pistol from the chair where his father had been sitting and shot twice at the armed robber.

The man fell against the cigarette case and fired back, hitting Michael Hall once, his father said.

The bullet hit Hall in the right shoulder and passed through his neck, lodging in his right shoulder, state police said.

Russell Hall then grabbed a gun he keeps under the counter and fired several shots at the armed intruder from 5 to 6 feet away, he said.

"I'm 100 percent sure I hit him,'' said Hall, who has owned the store for 26 years.

The man ran from the store.

State police said in a news release that it is possible Hall hit the robber once, though there were no signs on the scene that the man was wounded.

Hall said state police alerted area hospitals to watch for a man seeking treatment for a gunshot wound.

State police said the second robber had left the store before the shooting started.

"He chickened out,'' Hall said.

Both suspects fled on foot, state police said.

Michael Hall, 40, an employee of Pikeville Methodist Hospital, was listed in stable condition at the hospital yesterday.

Russell Hall said he's had the flu and his son had been helping him at night.

Hall said the shootout could have been worse, what with all the bullets flying. There was a female employee in the store, and Hall's daughter-in-law and granddaughter had left a few minutes earlier.

"It was kind of a close call,'' he said.

State police described the armed man as white, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, wearing a black ski mask, brown shirt and vest and blue jeans.

The other man was white, had nylon hose over his face and was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans.

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