ExxonMobil sued over employee who locked door in Detroit gas station shooting

A man injured in a fatal shooting at a Detroit gas station has filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil alleging that a clerk locked him and two other customers in the station’s convenience store with the shooter shooting them.

Anthony Bowden’s lawsuit accuses ExxonMobil Corp. and the owner of the gas station franchise, SMM Investment Inc., from multiple counts of negligence stemming from the March shooting in which a customer was killed, and he and another customer were injured.

Exxon Mobile gas station in Detroit

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“Locking three innocent people inside a building with one person threatening to shoot them for $4 shows a complete disregard for human life rather than profit,” said Bowden’s attorney, James Harrington of the Fieger Law firm, in a press release. “This store clerk has obviously been trained to lock the door and protect gas station assets at all costs.”

ExxonMobil Corp. did not respond to an ABC News request for comment. The owners of SMM Investment Inc. could not be reached for comment.

The shooting unfolded around 3 a.m. on March 6 at an ExxonMobil gas station northwest of Detroit, where 60-year-old Bowden pulled up on his way to work to use a ATM.

Bowden, according to the lawsuit filed May 16 in Wayne County Circuit Court, claims he was inside the convenience store at the gas station and overheard 22-year-old clerk Al-Hassan Aiash arguing with a customer about his credit card being declined when he attempted to pay for $4 worth of merchandise.

As the argument escalated, the customer, identified by police as 27-year-old Samuel McCray, allegedly threatened to walk out of the store with the unpurchased items, according to the lawsuit. Aiyash, who was in a bulletproof vestibule, locked the front door with a remote security switch allegedly to prevent McCray from leaving while he called the police, according to the lawsuit.

Bowden further claims that he heard McCray tell the clerk, “If you don’t let me go, I’m going to start shooting,” according to the lawsuit.

“The gas station employee did not unlock the door and continued to argue with the shooter,” the lawsuit alleges.

Bowden claims he tried to escape the store but was unable because the only exit door was locked and the clerk ignored his screams to unlock the door, according to the lawsuit.

“The alleged shooter kept his promise and fired bullets at innocent customers, killing one and seriously injuring two others,” the lawsuit says.

The clerk only unlocked the door “after a hail of bullets,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues that eight minutes elapsed between the time the clerk locked the gas station door, trapping customers inside with the shooter, and the time the door was unlocked.

Gregory Karlos Fortner-Kelly, 37, of Detroit, was killed in the shooting, according to the Detroit Police Department. Bowden and another customer were injured in the incident.

Bowden was shot three times, according to the lawsuit.

McCray fled the gas station store when the door was unlocked and was arrested two days later, according to the Detroit Police Department. He was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of assault with intent to murder and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office. He pleaded not guilty to the charges when he was arraigned on May 10.

On Thursday, Wayne County District Attorney Kym Worthy announced that gas station clerk Aiash has been arrested for felony manslaughter in connection with the shooting. He pleaded not guilty when arraigned on Friday.

“Allegations that the defendant locked the store door and ignored the men’s pleas to be released had tragic consequences in this case,” Worthy said in a statement.

Aiash’s lawyer, Jamil Khuja, called the case against his client “reach”.

“He was doing his job,” Khuja told the judge during Aiash’s arraignment, according to The Associated Press. “Did he freak out and act inappropriately in some way? Maybe, but that’s the best they can discuss here.”

ABC News

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