A liquor store clerk said she did not mean to
kill a young man who tried to rob her late Monday night when she grabbed her
pistol from a drawer and fired a shot in his direction.
But the bullet hit the alleged robber in the forehead, killing him.
"I didn't do anything wrong," the clerk, 33, said Tuesday from her
home in Spanish Lake. "It was self-defense.
"I'd rather him be laying there than me."
The shooting happened about 11:15 p.m. at Ja-Mar's liquor store, 5933 West
Florissant Avenue, at Riverview Boulevard. Fatally shot was Cortez A. Westley
17, of the 5900 block of Hamilton Terrace.
The clerk said Westley threatened her with an automatic pistol; police said it
turned out to be unloaded.
Westley is the fifth alleged robber fatally shot in unrelated episodes in St.
Louis within the past three weeks.
Since Sept. 27, police officers have killed a suspected carjacker who raped and
strangled one of his victims, and a robber who tried to take an employee
hostage. An off-duty St. Louis County deputy sheriff fatally shot a young man
trying to rob him as he returned home in the city. And, a security guard at a
convenience store fatally shot a robber after the robber killed the store
"I don't understand it," veteran homicide investigator Lt. Ron
Henderson said of the spate of shootings of robbers.
"Maybe they're watching too much TV."
Police said they believe the store clerk acted in self-defense.
In the shooting at Ja-Mar's, the clerk said the robber was wearing a bandanna
over his face.
"He said, 'Give me the money,' and I saw a gun in my face," said the
clerk, who asked that her name not be used. The clerk said she was robbed in the
store of $1,400 in May and didn't want to get robbed again. Her family owns the
She said she reached down and grabbed her own pistol and fired a single shot.
"I had no intention to kill him," she said. "I did not shoot to
The clerk, who has worked at Ja-Mar's for 13 years, said she knew Westley from
the neighborhood. "It was his cousin that robbed me in May," she said.
Lt. Henderson confirmed the earlier robbery and said the cousin was arrested in
The clerk said she works at the liquor store and a second job in the home health
care field to support herself and her 16-year-old son.
The pistol recovered from Westley had no ammunition in it, and his family
claimed a cover-up was taking place. "That gun was planted," said
Sylinia Westley, 29, the youth's aunt.
"He's not a robber, and if he did decide to commit a robbery it wouldn't be
with an empty gun."
Sylinia Westley and Earline Smith, 52, Cortez Westley's grandmother, said he was
a cocaine dealer. "He was a good-hearted person," added Sylinia
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