Fort Worth

Gunman leaped over counter, shot clerk to death

Clerk was obeying orders when shot to death

Police are still looking for suspect.
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Police are still looking for suspect.

A masked gunman leaped over a counter and held a handgun on Pronto Food Mart clerk Jimmy Khela Saturday afternoon just before he shot Khela to death, a new store video released by police Monday morning shows.

Khela appeared to be holding a cell phone as the bandit came over the counter and confronted the 38-year-old clerk.

Khela backed up and continued moving away from the robber, the short video taken from store surveillance cameras shows.

Detectives said Sunday that Khela was cooperating at all times and following the gunman’s demands.

Police released the video Monday in hopes someone would recognize the gunman who shot the clerk. On Sunday, detectives released photographs of the robber, who fled after the shooting.

Anyone who has information about the case or who recognizes the suspect should call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 817-469-8477. Residents also can call homicide detectives at 817-392-4330 or visit www.469tips.com.

Khela loved his customers and was described by residents as a friend to everyone.

He had learned to speak Spanish, to better communicate with his customers in the Diamond Hill.

“He never said a bad word to anyone,” owner Madha Atallah said Sunday afternoon, fighting back tears. Khela had worked for Atallah for two years. “He helped everyone.”

Customer Maria Sanchez stopped by the store Sunday afternoon and offered her condolences to Atallah.

“He [Khela] always talked to me,” Sanchez said who has lived in the area for 36 years. “I never saw him in a bad mood.”

Sanchez said that she had just gone by the store at 3 p.m. Saturday.

“There was the young woman working there at the time,” Sanchez said. “He hadn’t arrived yet.”

Detectives said that at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the gunman walked in the store in the 800 block of East Long Avenue and began making demands.

No other customers were in the store — just Khela and a female employee.

At some point, the gunman opened fire on Khela.

“The young woman crawled through the drive-through window to escape,” Sanchez said. Sanchez visited the employee in the hospital shortly after the shooting.

Residents said they heard as many as five shots.

After the shooting, the gunman ran out of the store.

When officers arrived, Khela was on the floor. He was pronounced dead at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website.

Police described the suspect as a white or Hispanic man, 25 to 30 years old, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 and weighing between 160 to 180 pounds.

He was wearing a Bulls baseball cap, a burgundy bandana over his face, a long-sleeved dark shirt, gray pants (possibly sweatpants) and brown work boots.

The gunman was armed with a two-tone handgun.

“Jimmy was a great guy,” Atallah said.

The store was closed Sunday, and Atallah said he didn’t know when it would be open again.

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

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