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Robber shot by intended victim after stickup

Originally ran here as:
Man charged with robbery

He was shot by his victim after stickup

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

A man shot Monday by a Fan District grocer whose store had just been robbed has been charged with robbery.

David Whitehead, 18, was charged with robbing the Lombardy Market at 201 N. Lombardy St.

Whitehead, of the 1400 block of Claiborne Street, is also a suspect in other area robberies, police said yesterday.

The grocer, Ralph E. Watkinson, 52, shot the suspect moments after his store was robbed at 10:15 a.m. Watkinson, called "R.E." by friends, grabbed his gun and ran after the robber.

They ran down a cobblestone alley beside the store. The robber began to get into a car and suddenly whirled around and pointed his gun at Watkinson, police said.

Watkinson later said he had to make a split-second decision: shoot or be shot. He fired once, hitting the robber in the abdomen.

Police said the suspect was able to get into the car and drive himself to Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.

Whitehead appeared in Richmond General District Court yesterday on the charges of robbing the Lombardy Market on Monday and using a gun in the holdup.

A judge set a hearing for July 5. Whitehead was discharged from MCV on Tuesday and is being held without bond in City Jail pending the hearing.

Monday's episode reminded the grocer of a similar instance in 1982, when he exchanged shots with a man trying to rob him as he was leaving his store for the night. Watkinson was wounded in the leg and the would-be robber was wounded in the shoulder. Both ended up in the same hospital, where the grocer identified the suspect.

Rudolph Lee Jr. won a court battle to keep Watkinson's bullet from being removed from his body, arguing that it could be used as evidence against him.

Later, however, Lee was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for shooting Watkinson and attempting to rob the grocery.


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