UPDATE 9/19/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
META, Ky. (WSAZ) -- An armed robbery attempt at a convenience store this week ended in gunfire. But it wasn't the robbers who opened fire.
There’s a fear and frustration that's leading more clerks and owners to take action. They're fed up and fighting back.
Last week, a Huntington store clerk got the robber's gun and fought with him before he fled.
This week, in an Eastern Kentucky neighborhood overwhelmed with armed robberies, a store owner says he had no hesitation in protecting his employees' lives -- with what could have been deadly force.
Garry Thornsberry says one of his cooks was prepping food just before midnight Monday at his often busy Meta Mart in Pike County when two men came in.
"They came with hoods up, faces covered and at least one gun drawn," Thornsberry said one of his clerks told him. "She turned and said, 'Garry' and they did not pick up on it.”
Noting the unusual tone in his clerk’s voice, Thornsberry saw the armed robbers on back office surveillance video. Bypassing the office rifle and shotgun, the owner picked up his legally owned handgun and got into a protective confrontation.
“I came out and pointed my gun at the one who had a gun," he said. "He raised the gun, and I shot my gun. I know I hit him in the shoulder.
I wasn't positive, so I pulled off a few more shots. Daytime or night time, clerks are on edge with all the robberies around here”.
Thornsberry says he's a marksman, and with a laser sighted pistol, he says that shot to the shoulder could have easily been a shot to kill.
“I did not shoot to kill but to protect my store, my employees," he said. "And to protect myself.”
Thornsberry's wife works at the store and also carries a legally concealed handgun gun for protection. Garry Thornsberry tells his clerks to offer no resistance to an armed robber.
We talked to two managers whose nearby corporate stores were robbed recently. One said there's a limit to restraint.
Another, however, said, "If I owned the store, I would have done the same thing Garry did."
Kentucky State Police tell us they have no suspects at this point in the investigation.
The whole incident was caught on tape.
It happened Monday night at the Meta Mart in the Johns Creek community.
The store owner, Gary Thornsberry, said he wanted to take control of the situation and had been preparing himself for the moment.
"I've gone over it in my mind, and I've decided that I want the ball in my court," he said.
Thornsberry said he was in the office when two men entered the Meta Mart, at least one of them had a gun. When he heard the clerk call his name, he looked up at the surveillance monitor and saw what was happening.
"I had my gun handy, and I went out the door," he said. He started to lift his gun up, and when he did I fired at him. I didn't know if the other fellow had a gun or not, and I put off a couple more shots," he said.
Thornsberry said it all happened so fast he was not sure if his bullets even hit the robber, but it appeared to hit his arm or side.
"You have to prepare. It's too late when it happens to start thinking 'what am I going to do,'" Thornsberry said
The robbers left the store empty-handed. Anyone with information about the robbery should contact Kentucky State Police.
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