http://www.tylerpaper.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16197522&BRD=1994&PAG=461&dept_id=226369&rfi=6 ROBBERY VICTIM 'LUCKY' By: KENNETH DEAN, Staff Writer 02/24/2006 Email to a friendPost a CommentPrinter-friendly CAUGHT: Smith County sheriff’s deputies question one of three suspects apprehended Thursday night after the Four Corners Grocery and Grill was robbed. (Staff Photo By: Tom Worner) A store owner considers himself "lucky" to be alive after a gunman fired at him at point-blank range during a robbery Thursday night. Michael Wintters, owner of the Four Points Grocery and Grill at the intersection of county roads 21 and 26, said the entire incident was scary and he feared for not only his life, but also those of his employee and two customers who were in the store. Wintters, who is also a circulation manager for the Tyler Morning Telegraph, said he felt good a day after he suffered multiple cuts to his face when glass shattered after one of the suspects fired a handgun within inches of him. ROBBERY Wintters said he and a female employee were cleaning the store in preparation for closing when he noticed a male wearing a hooded sweatshirt peering in the store's window. The store owner said he saw another man dressed the same way and both were hiding their faces. "I went to the door to see where they were, because I knew something wasn't right. When I saw the one guy's face, he was wearing a black stocking over his face and I thought, 'Oh no,'" he said. "When I saw the stocking, I knew I was in trouble." Wintters said he told the guy he was going to call 911, but the man said he didn't care, raised his right arm and fired a shot through the glass door at his face. "I felt a rush of air and then all of the glass. I guess I must have turned my head, because only the left side of my face was cut," he said. Wintters said he dialed 911 on his cell phone as he made his way to a storage room, where he shut the door behind him and saw his employee run to the office and shut the door. He said it seemed like "forever" before the dispatcher answered his call. "I heard another shot and I thought they had just shot my employee. I was on the phone with the dispatcher and was telling them, 'I think they just shot her,'" he said. He said he waited about 30 seconds after the last shot he heard, then exited the storage room back into the store where he found the two customers standing at the counter. The cash register and the suspects were gone. "I came out thinking they shot her, but it didn't matter. I don't know what I was going to do, but I was going to do something. My employee came out of the office and was hysterical, but she kept telling me she wanted to see my face. She thought I had been shot and so did I," he said. "Blood was everywhere." ARRESTED Smith County sheriff's deputies responding to the call were able to locate the suspects on Texas Highway 64 East, and a pursuit began into Tyler, then back out into the county on Farm-to-Market Road 2767, Old Kilgore Highway, four miles east of the loop. Deputies chasing the suspect vehicle performed a maneuver to disable the car and arrested three men. They also recovered the stolen cash register, with cash, and two handguns. Chief Deputy Bobby Garmon praised the work of his deputies and dispatchers and the arrest of the men. "These guys from the dispatchers to the deputies did a great job. You couldn't have written a script better than this," he said. Garmon said that Jacobe Lamont Hordge, 18; Tremaine Deshaun Wagoner, 20; and Ledale Dequan Kelley, 18, were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and felony evading detention with a vehicle. The men are being held in the Smith County Jail, each on bonds totaling $505,000. Sheriff's officials said the three suspects may have committed additional robberies, including a robbery at the Food Fast on Texas Highway 64 East earlier in the week. REFLECTION OF ACTIONS Wintters told the newspaper that he would do the same thing again. "I knew they were up to no good and if I hadn't gone out there, who knows what they would have done?" he said. "In my opinion, my confronting them outside might have saved some lives." Wintters, with his swollen left eye barely open, said his main concern was for his customers and employee. "It was a huge relief when I realized they were gone and that everyone inside was OK," he said. Wintters said his employee told him she hid under his desk in the office and prayed. "I guess her prayers worked," he said. On Friday morning, Wintters was back at work with several of his employees and said that although he was scared Thursday night, he will not let that deter him from running a business. "I had no qualms about coming in this morning. This is what I do and I am going to keep doing it," he said. Wintters said his employee also said she would return to work. FATHER'S RUN-IN Wintters' father, Emmett, recently had a run-in with bad guys as well. Wintters said it was his father who fired four rounds from his .32-caliber handgun at a car carrying alleged home burglars. The burglary occurred on FM 14 just south of FM 16 last week and the elder Wintters heard a noise and went to investigate. According to sheriff's officials, the elder Wintters encountered one male in the vehicle and then four other Hispanic males came running out of his neighbor's home carrying several items. He ordered them to stop, but the group began to flee from the scene. Sheriff officials said the man then fired four rounds with at least one striking the vehicle. The burglary case remains open and no arrests have been made at this time. Wintters said he plans to rethink security at the store, but he just wants to serve his customers. "I've got a business to run and people in this community appreciate the store. I am not going to let some punks tell me how to run my store," he said.