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Grocer wounded in gunfire; robber dies

Sharon Robertson believes God was with her husband Friday morning [March 2, 2001] when he was shot in a gunbattle with robbers outside his El Dorado grocery store.

One suspect died in the exchange, while another remained at large Friday. Neither was identified or described by police.

Joe Robertson, however, will recover, Sharon Robertson said as she sat in her husband's room at Medical Center of South Arkansas. He was shot twice, once in the leg and once in the lower back.

The episode began at 4:30 a.m. when Joe Robertson, 53, pulled into the parking lot of Joe's Grocery store on Arkansas 82 east of El Dorado. He was there, as always, to open his store.

Capt. Ken Jones of the Union County sheriff's office said the two robbers were waiting and approached Robertson and demanded money. The gunbattle began moments later, he said.

Sharon Robertson said her husband carried a .357-caliber Magnum revolver in his truck. He used it Friday to defend himself, Jones said. But police don't believe he shot anyone.

"It is possible one of the suspects shot the other," Jones said.

The wound that killed one of the suspects apparently was made by a shotgun, police said. Jones said the only person with a shotgun was the suspect's partner, who fled.

The man who died had a semiautomatic pistol. Police found a 12-gauge shotgun in the car ditched by the missing suspect.

The suspect was followed from the scene by a witness who watched him drive off the road and run into the woods, Jones said. The car was reported stolen out of North Little Rock.

Robertson did not know his alleged attackers, Jones said, but he was able to give a clear description of them shortly after driving himself to the hospital.

Sharon Robertson said she heard of the shooting after her husband made it to the hospital. Her brother-in-law, who works at Joe's Grocery, witnessed the final moments of the gunbattle as he arrived at work and called to say her husband had been shot.

"God was with him," she said. Note:  Regardless of whose gunshot put the parasite 6 feet under, it was the armed resistance that led to his demise and may even have saved Mr. Robertson's life. We wish him a full and speedy recovery and hope another armed citizen stops the guy who got away if he ever tries to do this again.

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