WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A would-be armed robber got a taste of his own medicine today when the convenience store clerk pulled out a gun of his own. After being held up last month, the clerk vowed to protect himself and be prepared for future threats.
The Wrightsville Country Store is no stranger to robberies. In fact, this is the third time this year that someone has walked through the doors demanding cash. But this time, the robber didn't walk out.
"I felt sorry for him," clerk Mark Headstrong said of the man who tried to rob him Thursday morning. "If he had dropped the gun I wouldn't have shot him, but he did not."
Headstrong shot the man twice: once in the leg and again in his hand. It was the first time Headstrong had ever fired a gun.
"Half a foot between me and him. Face to face, so I have to protect myself," Headstrong said.
Headstrong called 911, and the robber was taken to the hospital. He says he realized he needed a gun the last time the store was robbed.
"A month ago, I had Spider here," he said.
A man wearing a Spider-Man mask held up the store in October, stealing cash and cigarettes. When we spoke to Headstrong in the days after that robbery, he swore that things were going to change.
"I have now heavier tools, I would say," Headstrong told WWAY October 17. "If they would do that they are going to be shot or we get shot I don't know how to express this, somebody is going to be hurt."
The store's owner believes in protecting all of his employees and gave Headstrong the gun. He's glad the robber was stopped, but wished for a different ending.
"I wish he had dropped him dead, but he just gave him a second chance," Musa Agil said. "You cannot give these guys a second chance, because they would not give you a second chance."
Both Headstrong and Agil hope this failed hold-up is a warning to any future robbers.
"Never again," Agil said. "Never."
"Everybody in gas stations, they have guns if anybody try to rob somebody," Headstrong said. "They should think before they do it."
No word yet on who the robber is or the extent of his injuries.
Forest Hills Elementary School was on lockdown for a short time after the robbery as a precaution.