Originally created 07/06/99

Owner says he acted in self defense



Two years ago -- days after Thomas Shim bought a neighborhood grocery on lower Wrightsboro Road -- he watched a gunman walk in his store, point a pistol at his wife and pull the trigger.

The bullet missed.

If the same thing was to ever happen again, he vowed he'd be prepared.

And he was.

When two armed robbers stormed Yeong's Grocery Monday afternoon, Mr. Shim complied and handed over money from the cash register. But when the robber demanded his wallet, Mr. Shim pulled a .38-caliber revolver and fired one shot into the chest of the assailant, later identified as 36-year-old Anthony Boyd. He had been paroled from prison two years ago after serving four years of a 12-year prison sentence for armed robbery.

Mr. Boyd was dragged from the store by an accomplice, who police still are looking to identify and capture. Mr. Boyd died later at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Mr. Shim has not been charged and Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said all the evidence supports Mr. Shim shot in self-defense.

"I really didn't want to shoot nobody," he said. "But I had (the gun) for that reason."

The shooting may have put investigators one step closer to solving a rash of armed robberies that have plagued the Augusta area in recent months.

It's possible Mr. Shim may have shot their prime suspect.

"There are some similarities with these two suspects and several other robberies," Chief Deputy Strength said.

Reports of recent robberies bear similar details -- two assailants, one tall and thin, the other short and stocky, brandishing weapons and demanding money and often forcing customers in the store into the freezer.

Businesses struck by the bandits include Long John Silver's on Deans Bridge Road on June 22; Smile Gas on Wrightsboro Road, also on June 22; and Krystal on Wrightsboro Road May 27.

The startling incident Monday has been nearly enough for Mr. Shim to consider closing his business.

"I'm scared," he said Tuesday, leaving the Wrightsboro Road store closed for the day. "I came from California, I didn't know it was a bad area."

If he keeps the store open, he'll probably hire security guards, he said.

"I'm trying to open, but I'm scared," he said. "I'm scared to go back."

Meghan Gourley covers crime for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3227 or mgourley@augustachronicle.com.