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Man Shot at Gas Station Sues, Claiming Cashier Ignored Plea for Help

February 23, 1995|JON GARCIA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

After being robbed and shot in the chest while pumping gas into his car at a Shell station in Inglewood, Abedalsalam Alkhatatbeh said, he did not think it could get any worse.

But he was dumbfounded when, he says, the gas station attendant ignored his initial pleas to call 911. "I was stunned; I couldn't believe it," said Alkhatatbeh, 31.

The attendant, Mohan Pandey, 49, and service station owner, Michael Kim, tell a different story. Pandey says he called the police as soon as he found out Alkhatatbeh had been shot and even called Alkhatatbeh's girlfriend at his request.

The proof, they say, lies in telephone records that have yet to be released by the Inglewood Police Department.

But in Torrance Superior Court on Friday Alkhatatbeh filed suit against Shell Oil Co., Pandey and Kim for negligence. He is asking for $1 million, said his attorney David Ganezer.

Alkhatatbeh says that after being shot he stumbled from the cashier's booth to a Jack in the Box restaurant next door, where workers called for help, he said. Pandey eventually called the police, Ganezer said, but only after Alkhatatbeh had staggered away.

Alkhatatbeh said his ordeal began in the early morning of Nov. 7. After leaving his part-time job as an unarmed security guard for an airport-area business, he pulled into the Shell station where he usually buys gasoline.

After he had finished pumping, two men approached him. One of the men had a gun, he said.

"The guy said, 'Hey, dude, give me what you got,' " Alkhatatbeh said.

Alkhatatbeh gave him his wallet. But he had no cash, only credit cards.

The gunman smiled and shot three times, he said. Two bullets missed him, but one hit Alkhatatbeh in the chest, passed through his left lung and exited through his back.

Both robbers ran away, laughing, he said.

Alkhatatbeh said he staggered over to the cashier's booth, banged his fist on the bulletproof glass and yelled: "Call an ambulance."

Alkhatatbeh said Pandey then lifted up the phone receiver and said, "This isn't mine," and then hung it up.

When Alkhatatbeh got to the Jack in the Box next door, he said three workers saw him and called for help.

But Pandey says he did not delay. "I called the police immediately," he said. "I asked him, 'Are you hurt?' and he said, 'Call the police,' " Pandey said.

Station owner Kim says Alkhatatbeh is just "trying to get a little bit of money" by suing, adding that Pandey did everything possible to help him.

Shell Oil Co. officials said they regret any injury or harm that may have come from the incident but declined to comment further on the case.

Alkhatatbeh said that since the shooting he has been in pain. Without medical insurance, he said, he doesn't know how he will pay thousands of dollars in medical bills.

"I'm getting new bills every week," he said.

No arrests have been made in connection with the attack.

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