Clerk, 68, fights off would-be robber

June 30th, 2010 by Staff

AUSTIN (KXAN) – An elderly store clerk in northeast Austin was able to fight off his attacker with a trash can after he tried to rob his convenience store with a caulking gun.

Now police are searching for the 17-year-old suspect, Jose Alejandro Romero, who they say picked up a prostitute and then tried to rob the Speedy Stop gas station on East 51st Street when they ran out of crack.

It started along St. John’s Avenue during the wee hours of June 7.

“The actual suspect, Romero, went to pick up a prostitute – a transgender prostitute, according to that person,” said Senior Police Officer Veneza Aguiñaga, with Austin Police Department. “They went to smoke crack together. When they ran out of crack, he (Romero) went looking for more money.”

First they went back to Romero’s home, police said. When they couldn’t find money there, police said, they started searching for a robbery victim.

“He said they were looking for an immigrant to rob, which didn’t happen,” Aguiñaga said.

Around 4 a.m., they ended up at the Speedy Stop – where they ran into the fiesty 68-year-old store clerk.

Police said Romero held a caulking gun halfway under his shirt, but the clerk could tell it was a caulking gun – not a real firearm – and thought it was a joke.

However, police said that just further infuriated Romero, who then tried to hit the clerk over the head with the caulking gun.

“He missed his head but hit the victim on his hand,” Aguiñaga said.

Then the clerk picked up a garbage can and started hitting Romero with it, sending him running to his truck.

Matthew Mendoza, the suspect’s friend, said he never knew Romero to be violent but said he had recently started selling drugs. When he heard that Romero had been whipped by a man nearly 70 years old, Mendoza said he was “just really surprised, shocked, to hear it was him.”

Police interviewed the prostitute who was with Romero but have not filed charges. Investigators found Romero’s truck with caulking still in the truck bed, but no sign of Romero. They say it’s a lesson on how desperate people can get when under the influence.

“I’ve known him to do some siding work and some roofing work. That’s what shocked me, to know he was involved with narcotics and everything,” said Mendoza.

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