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Gas station owner foils robbery attempt

Owner says he was held at gunpoint but called police

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A San Jose gas station owner said he was held at gunpoint Thursday morning, but instead of handing over cash, he called police.

Gary Patel said that he saw a brown car pull up to pump No. 1 and a man dressed in a hoodie get out of the car. He said that something didn't feel right.

Patel said the man looked suspicious, which is why he decided to keep an eye on him.

"This is a very, very scary business,” Patel said. “I always watch.”

Patel has owned the gas station for 12 years. He said until Thursday he had never had a gun pulled on him, but he was always ready, just in case.

Patel said the man in the hoodie walked in and lingered by the oil, so he began taking a mental note of him, which came in handy right after another customer walked in, prepaid for gas and walked out.

“As soon as the lady left, he came up and had a handkerchief tied to his face, and that's how I knew he was going to rob me or like that. He pulled gun and said, 'Give me cash. Give me cash,'” Patel said. “I saw his hand have a pistol. That's why I was scared and I start screaming."

Patel said his instinct was to call 911 and duck down behind the counter. He also pressed a panic button, which is hooked up to a line that directly calls police when it's pushed.

Patel's actions were enough to frighten the man with the gun, who darted for the door.

"This profession is 100 percent dangerous, because the Jacksonville crime rate and the gas station -- there is a different kind of people coming in,” Patel said. “Most of them are good, but you never know."

Patel said he called his family to tell them what happened, and his daughter was relieved that he's OK.

“I called my daughter, and she said, 'Dad, you need to open the register. Give them the money,' because I put my life on the line,” Patel said.

The owner said that along with paying attention to anyone that pulls up outside or comes inside his store, surveillance cameras are very important to have. He said he's got several around his building and in his parking lot.

Police have taken the videos from Thursday's incident and are looking into them as part of the investigation.