Jennifer Edwards Baker reports:
Police are reviewing surveillance video and conducting interviews Monday morning after a Pleasant Ridge grocery store clerk shot and killed a man who came in wearing a motorcycle helmet late Sunday.
Omar Magdy Abouelalla, 22, collapsed inside the store and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said he was not armed with a weapon.
The second shift clerk at LM&N Unlimited Supermarket, 5640 Montgomery Road, called 911 at 8:46 p.m. He said he shot a man inside the business and thought he was getting robbed, said Cincinnati police Lt. Michael Savard, the night chief.
Abouelalla, of Mason, rode his motorcycle to the store, got off the bike and went inside still wearing the helmet with the visor raised, Savard said.
The clerk and Abouelalla were the only ones in the business at the time of the shooting.
Police are interviewing the store clerk, 32, whose name was not released. The clerk is cooperating with homicide detectives, who are conducting a death investigation.
“We are not sure of the facts yet,” Savard said.
Abouelalla has no criminal record in Hamilton County, a review of court records shows. His only offense is a 2010 speeding ticket on northbound Interstate 71 in Cincinnati. At that point, his listed address was Dearborn, Mich.
Cincinnati police are conferring with Hamilton County prosecutors today and showing them the video to see if criminal charges are appropriate, said Cincinnati Interim Police Chief Paul Humphries and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
Whether charges are filed are up to Deters’ office, Humphries said.
“It is truly a judgment call. You have to apply it to the law,” the chief said.
The case is definitely not clear-cut since no weapon was found on Abouelalla. But he did flip his visor down at one point during the confrontation with the store clerk and walk into an employee-only area near the counter, Humphries said.
The clerk and Abouelalla were acquainted with each other but not friends. Abouelalla delivered cigarettes to the store in the past, Humphries said.
Jimmy Anderson, 52, lives in the area and said he and his friends witnessed the shooting from the store parking lot.
Anderson said he saw a man on a racing bike zoom up, park across the street from the store and watch it for several minutes.
Anderson said the man on the bike went into the store and he and the clerk began loudly arguing in Arabic. At that point, the clerk was ringing up customers.
“It was pretty heated. It obviously was not a very friendly conversation,” Anderson said. “You could tell even if you don’t speak English it wasn’t like ‘How is your mother? Have you been to Florida lately?’ ”
Anderson said he then saw the man in the helmet lungedup toward the counter.
“The clerk backed up, fired one shot and then we saw the blood coming from the helmet as he laid on the floor,” Anderson said. “He got on the phone.”
Police said that Anderson’s account does not gel with what they have seen on the surveillance video but are unable to give details at this time.
A decision on whether charges will be filed should come by week’s end, Deters said.
“There is a whole range of possible charges. It just depends on what we believe the mindset was of the clerk at the time of the shooting,” he said. “Every case falls on its own facts. We just have to get as much information as possible before making a decision.”
Mike Allen, the county’s former prosecutor who is a defense attorney, said without a weapon, the case will be hard to justify as self-defense.
“The store video is going to tell the tale on this one,” he said.
Threats alone may not be enough to constitute a deadly threat, he said
The store operators took the business over not too long ago, said Daryl Coston, 57, who has lived in Pleasant Ridge for three years.
“This is the first time I’ve seen something like this around here,” he said as he walked past the store this morning. “But up in this area is pretty bad. This corner breeds a lot of drug use and it hasn’t always been that way.
“Too many people go in and out of there,” he continued, nodding at the store, “to be so jumpy. They have a lot of different characters in there.”
The store was closed Monday morning. A note on the door said it would reopen later this week.
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