Store clerk shoots and kills armed robbery suspect

A Conway convenience store owner will not face charges after a deadly shooting that occurred Monday night.

Horry County police say a man approached the owner of The Food Shoppe on Highway 501 business around 10 p.m. as the owner was walking to his car after closing.

Police say the man showed a gun and demanded money from the owner. The owner then drew a gun and they started shooting. The suspect, Coaty Deas of Conway, 29, was killed.

Police say Tamela Riggins, 29, would have been Deas' get-away driver. She has been charged with attempted murder and attempted armed robbery.

The store owner was back at work Tuesday, though not talking publicly about the harrowing incident he faced Monday night.

A few of the store's customers did talk about the shooting, and they say the owner simply did what he had to do.

"Someone was trying to rob him and he had to take care of his own self and his own security and I think he did the right thing," said Margie Abernathy of Conway.

"He's a real nice guy. Known him for awhile and that's the last thing I know he wanted to do, but it was either him or the other guy," added James Hardwick.

Deputy Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said all the evidence in the case matched the store owner's description of what happened, making it obvious he was within his rights to shoot Deas.

"When the facts do bear out, people will see just how easy this one was to determine that the guy was in fact justified," Richardson said.

Richardson said the store owner does have a concealed weapons permit, but the deputy solicitor said store owners are allowed an exception under the law to protect themselves going to and from work, so even if the store owner in this case did not have a gun permit, he still would have been within the law to shoot.

Though the use of a weapon turned out all right for this store owner, Richardson, who has a concealed weapons permit himself, said people shouldn't assume that everyone who pulls a gun in self defense would be as fortunate.

"If a person is really set out to harm you, keep that in mind, too. Simply being armed ain't going to do you a lot of good when someone's got the drop on you."

Richardson said he found out late Monday night that the shooting victim was Deas, who had a long criminal record, but he said by that time, the facts had already made it obvious this was a self-defense case.

Richardson said the law allows other circumstances in which a shooting could be justified. That would be in defense of others, or in defense of one's home.