Police: Robber stabs store owner, escapes in taxi

Fred Rogers Bryant, Jr.

August 3, 2010 4:17:54 AM PDT
Raleigh police are investigating a robbery at a downtown store that left the store's owner with stab wounds.

Authorities say a man entered the Looking Good store at 301 South Wilmington Street Monday morning, showed a knife, and robbed the business.

Eyewitnesses say they were shocked when they saw a man run from the store and then saw to store owner, 64-year-old Jaiprakash Bhatia, emerge covered in blood.

"We saw a fellow bolt from the clothing store and I heard a shout," eyewitness Mary Reed said. "I saw this man come out of the store and he had like a red shirt on."

The owner was stabbed several times and his shirt was soaked with blood.

Bhatia's brother says the robber came into the store with a knife demanding money and he says his brother opened the cash register giving him about $300.

"'You can take whatever you want to take,'" A.J. Bhatia said his brother told the man. "And he took the money then said, 'Give me some more money from your pocket.' He (victim) said, 'I don't have anything in my pocket.'"

A.J. Bhatia says at that point his brother begged the robber not to hurt him, but his plea was ignored.

"He hurt him at the neck, hand and the chest," A.J. Bhatia said.

Despite the stab wounds, Bhatia managed to walk to paramedics and climb onto a stretcher.

The suspect ran from the store and jumped into a cab around the corner.

"You get all kinds of fares all day long anyway, so it's nothing really unusual about that one," Raleigh Cab Driver Fredrick Sutton said. "I asked him was he okay, does he need to go to the hospital and he said, no, he'd be alright."

The cab driver tells Eyewitness News that the suspect never hurt him. In fact, he says, the suspect paid for the ride and left a tip with a blood soaked $5 bill.

"At first I didn't really pay much attention to it, because it was half crumpled up when he passed it to me," Fredrick said. "It looked a little stained but we get money with jelly stains and all kinds of stains."

But when Sutton returned to the cab stand near Moore Square, he was approached by Raleigh police who were investigating a violent attack.

"I said well I got the money that he paid me with, I gave them the $5 and it had blood stains all over it," Fredrick said.

Raleigh Police Department detectives say after committing the robbery and assault, 48-year-old Fred Rogers Bryant, Jr. took a taxicab to Idlewild Avenue.

Police arrested Bryant hours later. He has been charged with robbery and with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Bryant has a criminal record that includes robberies and serious assaults.

He's being held on $1 million bond.

Meanwhile, the victim's injuries are not life threatening and he is currently back at home recovering.

"Very scared, yeah," said his brother. "He couldn't talk, you know. This is a bad thing happened twice."

Bhatia says his brother was robbed at another store he owned on the east side of town. In that case, the gunman did not hurt him.

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