Mazagan Urban Ware did not open for business on Sunday after a robbery attempt Saturday, April 13, ended with the suspect shot dead by the owner, whose name has been withheld by Hamilton police.
Photo: E.L. Hubbard
Photo: E.L. Hubbard

Hamilton store owner talks about robbery, shooting

Hamilton police officers responded to Mazagan Urban Ware, 201 Main St., at 8:34 p.m. on a report of a robbery attempt that ended when the owner shot the suspect, according to a news release from the Hamilton Police Department. When police and fire units arrived at the clothing store, they found the robbery suspect lying outside the store with an apparent gunshot wound, the news release said.

The suspect, Jeremy Scott Irvin, 26, of Fairfield, was transported to Fort Hamilton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No charges are pending against the store owner, Smail Gueddari, who opened Mazagan Urban Ware in 2011.

“Anybody in my place would have done what I do,” Gueddari said on Monday.

It was 30 minutes before closing Saturday night when Gueddari said he heard his wife scream from the back room. He left his 28-month-old son in the back room in order to come to his wife’s aid.

Gueddari, 36, of Fairfield said the suspect had walked into the store Saturday night wearing a black cloth over his face. The man motioned to the cash register with his gun.

Gueddari said after he came out of the back room, the suspect fired one shot at him. The bullet went through two mannequins before lodging in a wall behind Gueddari.

The store owner said he then fired two shots, one of which found its target.

Hamilton police and the Butler County Coroner’s Office are continuing the investigation, according to the news release.

The store, which didn’t open for business Sunday, still showed signs of the robbery, including a cash drawer, change and a smattering of $10 and $20 bills strewn across the floor. Mazagan Urban Ware reopened Monday.

Priscilla Abulencia, 24, of Hamilton, who works at The Shop at Main across the street from Mazagan Urban Ware, said the store’s owner is “a well-respected businessman” who often is joined at the business by his wife and young son.

“If our store ever needs anything, it’s nothing to walk over there and say ‘Can I get change for this or can you lend us some bags,’” Abulencia said. “We look out for each other. He’s a good guy.”

William Young, 25, of Hamilton, a clerk at nearby Tom’s First Ward Cigar Store, said that Tom’s was robbed at gunpoint in February 2011 by two men who ordered an employee and her manager to hand over the store’s money.

One of the men pulled out a handgun, aimed it at the employee and pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t fire. When the man lifted the gun to investigate and pulled the trigger again, it went off, firing a shot into the ceiling. The would-be robbers fled the store when they heard an ambulance siren. Police arrested the men about 15 minutes later.

Young said such incidents in the neighborhood “makes you more anxious.”

“I’d say having a weapon or a gun might be mandatory,” he said. “It doesn’t feel safe. Even if you were to give the money over, who knows what would happen to you?”

Bobby McWhorter said he heard a single gunshot Saturday evening while at his home near the corner of North “C” Street and Park Avenue and came outside to see at least eight police cruisers.

McWhorter attributes criminal activity in their area, including multiple break-ins at businesses on the block, to a rising number of heroin addicts. He said the store owner’s actions were justified.

“He’s got every right to protect his family and his business,” he said. “I woulda done the same thing.”

Lori Rogers, 41, who lives several doors down from Mazagan Urban Ware, said it is “a busy little store” that sees increased business on evenings and weekends.

“On Saturdays, you can’t hardly ever find a parking spot out here,” Rogers said as she stood on the front steps of her South “C” Street home.

She said she didn’t know the neighborhood well enough before moving there in February from Hamilton’s Lindenwald neighborhood with her children, ages 6, 13, and 18.

“You have alcoholics and drug users … down on this end,” she said. “My kids aren’t actually allowed out by themselves.

“We haven’t been here long and we won’t be here long.”

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