Local News

Vance County Store Clerk Shoots Armed Robber Out of Store

Posted August 11, 1999

— A father and son faced fear together Wednesday night when a robber barged into their store. Instead of becoming victims, the two are alive today thanks to the son, who fought back.

Wednesday night, an armed man tried to clean out Tran's Mini Mart just outside of Henderson, until the store clerk took matters into his own hands.

"The store owner had been robbed a couple of times, three maybe four times, and we've had numerous robberies around the county and within the city," says Vance County Sheriff R. Thomas Breedlove. "This may be telling a story that people are getting fed up with it."

The store owner's son was behind the counter when 16-year-old Christopher Neilson of Henderson demanded the cash.

"He removed the money from the cash register, passed it across the counter, and as he did so, he also passed a .45 pistol and fired one shot and struck the subject in the neck," Breedlove said.

The bullet struck Neilson so hard that he landed on the sidewalk. Neilson died early Thursday morning.

"He was basically blown out of the store by the force of the bullet striking him," Breedlove said.

People who work at other convenience stores say they would have done the same thing. Assistant store manager Michael Ross admitted that it was a risky move, but said he might have done the same thing. "I got to protect myself as well as the job that I was hired to do."

Store cameras actually captured the whole incident on tape, but the Sheriff's Department has not released it yet. Neither the store owner nor his son were available for comment.

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