CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A community is still reeling after a gas station clerk was shot and killed during an armed robbery.

The grieving store owner spoke out for the first time about the employee he calls a "brother." 

He tells NBC Charlotte the man didn't stand a chance, because the suspect opened fire within seconds of demanding money.

Crime Stoppers and the FBI are offering a combined total reward of up to $15,000 for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

RELATED: Gas station clerk shot, killed during armed robbery in west Charlotte

On Tuesday morning, NBC Charlotte saw a growing memorial outside the gas station, where tearful customers were laying down flowers on the victim’s car. It shows the impact 50-year-old Ismael Doumbia had on the community.

“You walk in in the morning and you get that big beautiful smile,” said Mohamed Darwish, the gas station owner.

Darwish described how he got the call from police at around 4 a.m. on Monday.

“The first question I asked, ‘Is my clerk OK?’ They said, ‘we cannot disclose’. That alone just kind of shocked me a little,” Darwish told NBC Charlotte.

It ended up being the worst possible news. Doumbia was shot and killed inside the gas station. 

Police released surveillance video showing the masked man storm in with his gun drawn. Darwish says the suspect opened fire within seconds of demanding money.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department hopes that someone recognizes the suspect in the video.

“It’s critical we get as many eyes on that video as possible,” CMPD Captain Chris Dozier said.

“For someone to walk into a store and shoot at close range, he’s a very dangerous man and he needs to be off the street,” Darwish said.

Doumbia was known as a hardworking employee who had been working at the gas station for a decade.

“Ismael has been part of this community, part of this store, part of my family, I call him a brother,” said Darwish. “We are just devasted and heartbroken by the loss.”

Darwish says the store remained closed on Tuesday in honor of the murdered clerk. It’s expected to be back open on Wednesday.


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