Teen arrested in violent attack on Westside cellphone clerk

Police say robber stabbed Metro PCS clerk before grabbing cash from register

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An 18-year-old man was arrested overnight in connection with an attack on a Metro PCS store clerk during a robbery of a Westside store on Friday, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Emery Hand was booked into the Duval County jail early Tuesday on charges of attempted murder and armed robbery.

Surveillance video from the store on Ramona Boulevard showed a vicious attack on the store clerk, who was stabbed and robbed just after closing the store Friday night. The clerk still recovering in a local hospital.

News4Jax was able to watch surveillance video of the robbery, but honored a request not to release the video to the public. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released pictures from the video on Monday, hoping someone in the community would help identify the robber.

Police said the photos did generate numerous tips and Hand was arrested at a home on in Arlington. According to JSO, Hand admitted to the robbery.

Co-worker reacts to attack

The clerk was counting out the day's receipts after midnight Saturday morning, after closing the store, when the attacker came in through an unlocked back door. The video shows the robber leave several times, apparently casing the store, before he finally sneaks to the front, surprises the clerk and stabs him several times before taking the cash from the register and running away.

The clerk is 64 years old, but the video shows he put up a fight to protect himself and the store.

Muni Shirzai also works at the store and said she can't believe what she saw when she watched the surveillance video.

“It really makes me sad. He doesn't deserve this. He really doesn't,” Shirzai said. “This makes me angry, because these types of people, they are the ones to get away with this type of stuff. (They think,) 'I know he's an old man, and he won't be able to do anything.' I'm pretty sure they had this all planned out.”

News4Jax was told the clerk could lose an eye as a result of the violent attack.

“He likes to help customers,” Shirzai said of her co-worker. “A lot of customers come later. He always helps customers.”

Because the victim is so friendly, Shirzai said it's hard to believe what happened at the store.

“It does make me scared,” she said. “At the same time, I'm OK. I know I'm OK. We just have to be careful, because this could happen at any time.”

Cellphone stores targeted

Metro PCS stores have been hit by crime several times in Jacksonville, including:

  • A violent robbery in 2011 on Soutel Drive
  • A deadly robbery in 2013 on Main Street in Brentwood
  • A robbery in April 2016 at the store at 103rd Street and Blanding Boulevard
  • Saturday's violent robbery on Ramona Boulevard

“It is somewhat of an easy target because this is the type of business where people come in and pay their bills with cash, and people know that and know that at certain times of day -- maybe closer to closing -- there's a large amount of cash on hand,” News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.

News4Jax contacted the Metro PCS corporate offices, but they have not returned requests for comment. We want to ask them about the safety of the stores, even though they are independently owned. 

Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.