Community rallies around store clerk, husband shot in robbery
Posted June 30, 2010
Lakeview, N.C. — Moore County residents rallied Tuesday night to support a 75-year-old store clerk and her husband who were shot during a robbery a day earlier.
More than 50 people held a vigil outside the Exxon Short Stop Food Mart, at U.S. Highway 1 and Camp Easter Road in Lakeview, where Grace and Angus Gene Kelly were shot.
"You got to admit, this is pretty incredible to have this many people out on a Tuesday night at 11 o'clock to support a friend," family friend, Mark Metcalf, who organized the vigil, said.
Billy Chavis, who has known the couple since childhood, said that Angus Kelly, 78, waited in the parking lot whenever Grace Kelly was the last one at the store, where she's worked for nearly 30 years.
"He comes every time she closes, just to protect her. It's his wife," Chavis said.
Investigators said that late Monday, Angus Kelly drove up to the store to see three men robbing his wife at gunpoint. He fired a shotgun through the window, striking one man in the face. Investigators said the two other men used Grace Kelly as a shield, prompting an exchange of gunfire in which Angus Kelly was shot twice in the side and his wife in the arm.
Grace Kelly was treated and released from Moore Regional Hospital. Angus Kelly was in serious condition at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill late Tuesday.
Participants in the vigil collected money to help pay for the couple's medical care.
"Hospital bills come regardless of anything," said Metcalf, standing on the bumper of a Ford pickup to address the crowd. "Remind each other, encourage each other to give. This is going to be a tough battle for Gene and Grace."
Vigil participants said the Kellys are a fixture of the communities of Lakeview and Vass – "real good country people," Chavis called them.
"Just good, solid, hard-working people," said Leon Keith, owner of Keith's Hardware.
Angus Kelly is a farmer who sells eggs and produce, Chavis said. Many at the vigil recalled Grace Kelly as a mother figure.
"Grace knows everybody in this county, and if something is happening, she'll ask you about it, ask you how you're doing," Chavis said.
"I can guarantee Grace probably raised half this community," Metcalf said. "I'm sure some of you tried to buy beer before you was 21, and she busted you, didn't you?"
People at the vigil also said they want justice for the couple.
"I think it's terrible that somebody would do something like that," Tonya Keith said.
The injured suspect – Randy Joel Williams, 17, of Southern Pines – was in critical condition at Moore Regional Hospital Tuesday. Two others – Leroy Richard Medley, 20, of Southern Pines, and Demarcus James Dennison, 18, of Polkton – were placed in the Moore County Detention Center under separate $250,000 bonds.
They face two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and one count each of first-degree kidnapping and armed robbery.
Authorities are searching for a suspected getaway driver, whose identity hasn't been released. Sheriff Lane Carter said the men might have committed a series of armed robberies from Moore County to Charlotte over the past several months.
Tonya Keith, who said she isn't close to the Kellys but knows them as members of her community, promised that the couple will get support as long as they need it.
"We're close-knit folks," she said. The vigil, she said, shows "that we believe in one another, that we're close and we have a strong spiritual backing."