‘He was very fortunate’: No charges for clerk in Hamilton store shooting

A Butler County grand jury has declined to indict a Hamilton store clerk who shot a man and said he acted in self-defense.

Emergency units responded to Singletary’s Carry Out on Second Street at about 12:55 p.m. on June 17 for a report of person shot and found a man sitting across the street with a gunshot wound to the back, according to the police report.

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The victim, Kenneth Wayne Wells Jr., 38, of Minster Street in Hamilton, suffered a non-life-threatening injury. A shot was fired through a window, hitting Wells in the back, according to police.

“There was some type of fight inside between (him), and the clerk shot through the window,” said Hamilton Police Sgt. Richard Burkhardt.

The clerk was questioned by police but not charged. In the 911 call, the clerk indicates he was attacked and that the attacker was armed.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the week of the shooting that the case would be presented for a grand jury for review, per his policy in all self-defense and officer-involved shooting incidents.

On Wednesday, the grand jury returned no indictments against the clerk. Gmoser said it was a close call.

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“He (the clerk) was requested to meet with the Hamilton Police Department officers and my assistant prosecutor to express my serious reservations with the outcome, but nevertheless it is the grand jury’s decision, and to inform him that he was very fortunate that the grand jury elected not to indict him under the circumstances of this case. That is the system we have,” Gmoser said. “I wanted him to know another grand jury may not have considered it the same way.”

The prosecutor said the evidence indicated the clerk was the only person armed.

“I have serious reservations on the self-defense that was utilized, fortunately nobody got killed,” Gmoser said. “Throwing a plastic garbage can at somebody and then running away does not justify getting shot in the back.”

The prosecutor said the incident was caught on video and some of what was said cannot be heard.

“But I want to be clear this should not signal to the general public that it is OK to shoot somebody in the back under these circumstances,” he said.

A male 911 caller who said he was in the store told dispatchers he needed police and that he had been attacked.

“I just got attacked by a couple guys. One guy with his girlfriend … he was armed and he tried to attack me. I don’t know what happened, just can you please send an officer,” said the male caller.

The dispatcher said there was a call of shots fired at his location and asked if someone had been shot.

“Yea, I have been attacked, so …,” the man answered.

When the dispatcher said attacked means he was punched in the face, the caller said, “He got a gun, I just don’t know.”

The dispatcher asked the man how many times he had been shot, and he said none.

“No times yet,” the caller said. “Not yet, but I will be.”

Then screaming is heard in the call and it disconnected. There was no answer on call back.

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