Community mourns Johnston County store clerk killed during robbery


ZEBULON, N.C. (WNCN) — A Johnston County convenience store clerk was shot and killed late Thursday during a robbery, officials confirmed.

Al Shami Esmail, courtesy Harley Brewer
Al Shami Esmail, courtesy Harley Brewer

Authorities arrived at the Shop-N-Go convenience store off N.C. Highway 39 a little after 11 p.m. Thursday.

Deputies found 29-year-old Al Shami Esmail shot to death.

Another employee, Ricky Lynch, 51, was also shot but survived. He was transported to WakeMed with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said two masked robbers could be seen on surveillance video robbing the clerk. Esmail was shot during the course of that robbery.

The suspects left the scene in a dark-colored sedan.

Grieving family and friends of the victims gathered outside the store shortly after authorities arrived on scene.

“It’s very sad. Like I said, very friendly people, welcomed when I buy the gas and everything. I just hate for something like [this], especially a fatality.  It’s hard to believe something like this would happen right here,” said longtime customer Tom Price.

Rick Bailey said his brother was shot during an armed robbery at the same convenience store in 2010. Bailey’s brother survived the shooting.

“They took one of my friends, and hurt another one,” Bailey said. “Just a really good guy, he’d do anything for you. Real pleasant young man.”

Customer Stephan Herzog said he was in total shock.

Johnston County clerk shooting
CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THE SCENE

“Everybody knows everybody and it was a total shock when we heard about it this morning,” Herzog said.

The sheriff’s office is urging anyone with any information regarding this incident to contact the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office at 919-989-5010.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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