Clerks at all-night convenience stores were anxious Saturday after a 45-year-old store owner was shot and killed during a botched robbery.
"At our store chain, we're trained not to be aggressive, but if they come in with weapons to give them what they want," said John Oliver, who has been a clerk seven months at a 7-Eleven market in Garden Grove.
Oliver and other clerks said Saturday that they are becoming worried about what they believe is a trend of escalating violence.
None of the employees at the stores contacted Saturday had heard about the death of Hrair Kirabeit Ghazarossian, 45, but became worried after learning about it from a reporter.
Ghazarossian's Valencia Market, at 9252 Garden Grove Blvd., is only a few miles away from most of the clerks interviewed Saturday.
Ghazarossian, an Armenian and father of two, died of a single gunshot to the chest on Friday after two males in their late teens to early 20s attempted to rob his store.
Police do not routinely notify late-night stores after a murder or robbery attempt at one of them, Garden Grove Police Sgt. Dan Lyons said.
However, Lyons said that such stores will be a high priority for police patrols.
"Our officers are very conscientious," Lyons said, "and will keep an eye on convenience and liquor stores that stay open late at night. They may not go inside, but if they have special information regarding a suspect or something strange, they will go in and talk to the owners."
Some clerks wondered why no network exists for sharing information about shootings, robberies and suspects' descriptions.
In nearby Westminster, Quynh Nguyen said an incident occurred Friday night that frightened him and a co-worker at an all-night convenience store.
"I was working in the back and my friend was working the counter," Nguyen said. "Several men came into the store and they just took a 12-pack of beer and then ran out. . . . We didn't chase them."
Last March, angry neighbors of a 24-hour convenience store in the San Fernando Valley urged the store's parent corporation to close earlier to deter robberies after five suspects apparently trying to steal beer stabbed a store clerk 22 times at about 1:45 one morning. The clerk survived.
While clerks acknowledged the danger of their work, they said "senseless violence" is escalating and cited a La Habra incident last week in which a mother of four was beaten to death by strangers.
"It's happening more and more," Oliver said. "Just give them what they want, even if it's your money. Hey, you can be anywhere. Look at the girl in La Habra where they cut off somebody in a car and she got beaten to death. Or when a clerk gets shot or killed for only $38. It is just senseless."