Customers mourn store clerk's death, search for his killer

Harry Briggs was shot and killed during a robbery at the store where he worked.
Published: .
Updated: .

Nearly a week after a convenience store clerk was shot in a robbery, there is new urgency by neighbors to find his killer.

Harry Briggs died after suffering two gunshot wounds to the head, following the robbery at the Phillips Kicks 66 at Troy and Lynhurst last Wednesday night. His co-workers have been handing out hundreds of flyers with surveillance pictures of the suspect.

We are also hearing more stories about the kindness of the 45-year-old store clerk, often to strangers, which is why so many want his killer caught.

It was a small act of kindness at the convenience store that left a lasting impression on Tony Kays, about a caring clerk.

"I don't know what I'd have done if he hadn't been there. I went in there, my leg - I could hardly walk," Kays recalled.

Kays lives right around the corner from the gas station. This past spring, he'd fallen and badly injured his knee. When he was finally able to leave the house on his own, he stopped at the convenience store on his way back from a doctor's appointment.

At the counter, there was Harry Briggs.

"He saw me and my cane and said, 'Show me what you want, I'll get it, put it on the counter.' He rings it up, bags it up, comes around and he grabs my arm real gently and says, 'Here, man, I'll help you out so you don't fall'," Kays said. "So he takes the bag, walks me out, sets it down and my cane and just grabs my hands and says, 'I'll help ease you down in your seat'. I've known people around here 30 years who wouldn't walk across the street and throw water on me if I was on fire, but this guy, I don't know him from anybody."

He only knew Harry Briggs by deed, not by name, until last Wednesday, when he was gone in a stunning act of violence.

"How somebody you don't even know just affects you, you know. This is just, I don't know...," Kays said, shaking his head. "Just a damn shame is what it is. Damn shame."

Now, there is outrage by many in this community, directed toward the man who committed the murder.

"He had no regard for life. I mean, he went in and shot him before he even said 'This is a stick up.' What is that? I mean, that's a monster. A demon among people, I don't know," Kays said.

The suspect is still on the loose, nearly a week after he shot Harry Briggs. Surveillance cameras captured video of the masked man shoot Briggs, then point his gun at another clerk, yelling demands for cash.

After the crime, the suspect was shown skipping away across the store's parking lot. Now, Tony says neighbors, just like police, are hunting him.

"Oh yeah, I know people that's been driving around looking for him. Everybody would love to get their hands on him. We need him caught because I know a lot of guys ready to send him straight to hell," Kays said.

Flyers covered in the surveillance photos are everywhere, including on doors and windows at the scene of the crime. One also sits on the counter, greeting customers as they pay.

Workers have handed out hundreds of them, most by customer request.

"Everybody wants to find this guy," said Matt Jonas, a clerk who was trained by Briggs.

Jonas and other co-workers are now doing their jobs, in that same spot where Briggs lost his life. They are desperately hoping for an arrest.

They are also, along with customers, helping the victim's family, a few dollars at a time. A red donation bucket with Harry Briggs' name scrawled across it, fills up daily, if not hourly.

"Maybe every other person, if not every person has been donating," Jonas said. "Honestly, he's probably the closest thing you can really find to a saint nowadays. He just would go out of his way to do absolutely anything for somebody. Kind of guy he was and people knew that."

As an organ donor, Harry Briggs has already saved three lives. His actions at work and around town impacted many more - even those who until recently, never knew his name.

"He was the convenience store guy, you know, you go and talk to him every day, but you don’t know his name. Everybody remembers him. The world needs more people like him," Kays said. "On his way out of this world, he's still giving, you know? At least his life stood for something. He left a legacy a lot of people remember him by."

Friends and neighbors have been organizing a yard sale and other events to raise money for Harry Briggs' family. You can find details on this Facebook page.

Also, Metro Police tell Eyewitness News that they continue to get tips about the man seen in the surveillance pictures. If you recognize his face or his voice from the video, call Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.