Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Most Dangerous Job in the Universe

[Lydia Alvarado]

August 16, 2008 was just another day in small-town America. Like she normally did, Mindy Daffern, 46, worked the counter of the convenience store she owned in Scotland, Texas. Mindy, a wife, mother, and grandmother, was well-liked in her community.

At 3:00 in the afternoon, a man walked into the store. A customer just like any other. He wore a t-shirt, a baseball cap, and held a paper cup. He handed the cup to Mindy. She took it and filled it for him.

It was then that normalcy crashed and burned. A surveillance video clearly shows the man, later identified as Wallace Wayne Bowman, Jr., pulling a pistol out of his pocket and shoving it in Mindy’s face. With little fan-fair, he marches her out of the store. The only car in the parking lot, a Ford Explorer, can be seen backing out of its parking space and disappearing from the camera’s range.

As soon as police viewed the video, they recognized Bowman, 30, who had previously served time for sexually assaulting a twelve-year-old girl. Within hours, his Explorer was located outside a motel about 40 miles from Scotland.

After his arrest, Bowman led cops to Mindy’s body. The cause of death hasn’t been released yet.

A recent study by police in Dallas, Texas highlighted the extent of danger convenience store clerks face every day. So far in 2008, 3,700 crimes have been committed at the stores. According to CBS Channel 11 News in Dallas, “The crimes range from robberies and thefts to shootings and murder.”

The Dallas Convenience Store Crime Task Force made several recommendations to reduce the crimes. These include the use of digital surveillance cameras, 24-hour video recording, drop-safes, and silent burglar alarms.

I’ve got news for the Task Force. While these measures might help cops solve more of the crimes, they won’t stop the drug-addicted thugs who target convenience stores.

While authorities and store-owners search for answers, the carnage goes on.

A couple of weeks ago, Linda Raulerson was gunned down by an unknown robber in Lake City, Florida. [See my blog “Another Convenience Store Clerk Murdered.”]

On August 18, store-owner Mohammad Nasir Uddin and two customers were shot during a robbery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Two robbers rushed into the Central Food Mart and opened fire, hitting Uddin in the head. He died the next day. A homeless man, Ronald Hayworth, and customer Albert Barton were also hospitalized with life-threatening wounds. Suspect Khadafy Mullens and a teenage accomplice were arrested and charged with murder.

In Lake Park, Georgia, Daymon Heard is accused of murdering Jay Patel, owner of Triangle Food Store. Police arrested Heard on a drug charge in Jacksonville, Florida. At first, investigators thought he may also have been the killer of Linda Raulerson, but later concluded that he could not have committed that crime. Heard has been charged with Patel’s murder.

By all accounts, Lydia Alvarado was a pillar of her Roswell, Georgia community. She owned the Azteca Grocery on Alpharetta Street. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described her: “Alvarado, a graduate of Roswell High, was the fifth of six children in a Mexican-American family, and moved with her family from Chicago to the northern suburbs of Atlanta as a teen. She opened her store in Roswell 15 years ago, said her older brother, Arthur Macias. She had a reputation for being generous with patrons.”

Lydia had a husband and two daughters. Her close-knit family keeps asking the question all crime victims ask: why? “We have to know why,” her sister said. “Why did they have to kill Lydia?”

Police are asking the same question. “She was shot early on when they came in,” said Roswell police lieutenant James McGhee. “Clearly she had her hands up and was backing up, cooperating with the demands.”

It took six months, but police arrested Samuel Alfonso Boyce, David Alberto Luna, and Joel Augusto Boyce Douglas for the murder of Lydia Alvarado. They’ve been charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment.

“[Alvarado] helped people who were needy,” Arthur Macias said. “She even gave credit to people who were unable to pay for their food.”


cubby said...

Speaking from years of retail experience, these type of crimes are not going to stop until clerks are not made to work in stores alone at any time. I think the number of clerks should be by square footage of the store, because if you have one clerk up front and one in the back and no way to contact each other you might as well be by yourself. The last store I worked at as assistant manager had as policy that a manager opened alone every day until 12 or 1:00. It was not a convenience store but a "Dollar" type store, stand alone all by itself right next to a busy highway, a disaster waiting to happen. Luckily nothing did while I was there, but I quit anyway. I'm not risking my life for their corporate idiocy.

Dee said...

Lydia was not alone in the store and it wouldn't have mattered if she was, those animals were only interested in the money.