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Female clerk shoots robber with long-idle pistol

Originally ran here as:
"Clerk grabs long-idle pistol, halts robbery"
June 28, 2001
By Don Jacobs
, News-Sentinel staff writer

When Sam Duncan and his partner bought the store now called Sam and Jerry's Market and Deli on Chapman Highway nearly 17 years ago, the previous owner left a .38-caliber pistol behind the counter.

Early Wednesday morning, a 29-year-old female employee grabbed the pistol during a robbery and fired one shot into a suspect's chest. The man was armed with a tire tool, police said.

The wounded man escaped in a car but was arrested about noon Wednesday. He was found in an Island Home Boulevard house in South Knoxville after police were tipped about the suspect's identity and location.

Larry Spencer Burchfield, 22, of Island Home Boulevard was charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the 1:41 a.m. heist of Sam and Jerry's Market, said Knoxville Police Department Investigator Joe Huckleby.

Huckleby said Burchfield had been shot "right over the heart" but that the bullet had skipped across his chest, rather than entering his torso. The round exited Burchfield's chest and struck his left arm before falling to the floor of the deli, Huckleby said.

Burchfield told authorities he escaped in a car belonging to a friend, then went out and bought cocaine and marijuana with the money he was able to hold after being shot, Huckleby said. He hadn't received medical treatment for the bullet wound before his arrest.

"He said it was about $60, but I haven't got the amount from the store yet," Huckleby said.

Sam and Jerry's Market hadn't been robbed in the 17 years he's co-owned it, said Sam Duncan, co-owner of the business at 6409 Chapman Highway, mainly because the business has been a favored eating place for law enforcement officers with the city and county.

"They're here day and night," Duncan said. "It takes someone with no intelligence" to rob the market.

Duncan said the robber pushed his way around the deli counter and toward the cash register when a female clerk tried to block his path. The robber grabbed the woman's wrist, causing a bruise, and shoved her out of the way. The woman then reached under the counter, grabbed the pistol and fired once.

"She said when she shot him, he hollered, threw the tire tool down and ran out," Duncan said. The man dropped cash as he ran from the store.

Duncan said he had left the weapon under the counter "as a precaution" for years and hadn't paid too much attention to the it. He last had it cleaned about four years ago, he said.

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