Vigil honors slain store clerk known as a 'good man' in Durham

DURHAM (WTVD) -- A prayer vigil was held in Durham Thursday evening to honor the life of 48-year-old Amer Mahmood, who was shot to death in an armed robbery on July 4.

The group Nonviolent Durham held the event, calling Mahmood a "good man, a devoted husband, father and friend."

Amer Mahmood

"The sudden violent death of any brother or sister, any neighbor, any resident of this town demands our attention," said Marcia Owen, Executive Director of Nonviolent Durham.

Mahmood's wife Carolyn and children who live in Arizona are in New York couldn't make it to the vigil, but she sent a message to the group saying her husband "was a loyal and honest man who was loved very much by me and his children."

The community is still trying to come to terms with the slaying.

"He wanted to know each and every person and that's the type of person he was," said customer Shelley Reaves of Mahmood.

"He does everything for his kids. He told me every time I talked to him that 'My kids mean the world to me,'" said neighbor David Bogar.

Police were called to the robbery in progress at the Joy Food Mart at 2109 North Roxboro Street around 12:45 a.m. on the Fourth of July.

According to a police report, officers encountered 26-year-old Dmarlo Johnson of Durham coming out of the store. Video from a police car shows Johnson pull a gun from his waistband and point it at the officers.

Dmarlo Johnson

He was ordered to put the gun down, but according to witnesses, he shot at them and they returned fire.

Johnson ran out into North Roxboro Street where an officer fired at him and he fell to the ground. He had gunshot wounds to his left collarbone, left knee, left foot, and a graze wound to his upper left arm. The officers were not hurt.

Investigators say they have determined Johnson drove to the store and parked near the front door. He pulled his shirt over the lower part of his face as he went inside and pointed a 9mm handgun at Mahmood demanding money.

Mahmood took the drawer out of the cash register, placed it on the counter, and put his hands in the air. Even though he did what he was told to do, Johnson walked around the counter and shot him twice. He fired another shot after Mahmood fell to the floor.

Johnson then took cash and cigarettes and went outside to put the items in his car. He went back inside the business and took more cigarettes. Upon his return, Johnson shot Mahmood again and fired shots at video cameras inside the business.

Johnson was released from the hospital shortly after the shooting and transferred to the Durham County Jail where he's being held without bond on a murder charge.

In her message, Mahmood's wife called the killing "senseless."

"The fact is everyone knew Amer was such a good person in his everyday life - even through small interactions with people, his kind and caring nature was evident," she wrote. "Amer avoided conflict, it was his way. He always did whatever he could to keep the peace."

The family sent Mahmood's body back to Pakistan for burial.

Thursday, the Durham County District Attorney's Office said it will not seek the death penalty in the case.

Carolyn Mahmood's aunt sent ABC11 a statement on that decision.

"Amer died and now his family has to endure a trial that we already know will not produce the outcome that is deserved. Clearly the justice system is lacking," she said.

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