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
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
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
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.