Charges filed in convenience store shooting


Formal charges were filed Thursday against a Pine Bluff man accused of shooting a clerk at a convenience store in October.

Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter charged Michael Lee Merritt, 19, with criminal attempt capital murder and aggravated robbery stemming from the October 18 shooting of Haidem Shah, 37, a clerk at the A&Y Shell Station at 3110 Camden Road.

During a court hearing for Merritt on Oct. 22, Deputy Prosecutor Maxie Kizer said a person who was not identified in court called police to report that the clerk had been shot, and when officers arrived, Shah had already been taken to the hospital.

The witness said Shah had called him after being shot and police reported seeing a blood trail from the cash register out the front door.

Video surveillance from the store showed Shah being shot by a black male and after being unable to open the cash register, the man reportedly shot Shah again before leaving the store heading east.

A day after the shooting, an off-duty police officer who was in the area of the store on Union Street and had seen the store video, saw Merritt, who was reportedly wearing shoes that matched those worn by the suspect in the shooting.

Kizer said after Merritt was questioned, detectives served a search warrant at an apartment in the 4500 block of Union Street and recovered clothing and a hat that matched what the suspect had been wearing, as well as a gun.

Bond for Merritt was set at $250,000 cash only and he was also ordered to have no contact with Shah until the case is settled.

The Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Merritt, and the case was assigned to First Division Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones.

The shooting of Shah was the second time that a clerk at a convenience store had been shot in less than a month.

On Sept. 25, Mohammad Islam, 28, a clerk at the Big Red Food Mart at 2401 E. Sixth Ave., was found shot to death inside the store. The cause of death was listed as multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body.

Video surveillance cameras inside the store did not work and since that incident, the Pine Bluff City Council has approved an ordinance requiring surveillance cameras inside convenience stores and other businesses in the city, but the ordinance will not apply to existing businesses unless there are a large number of criminal reports taken at that business.

No arrests have been made in the death of Islam and anyone with information should contact the police Detective Division at 730-2090 and all calls will be kept confidential. Anonymous tips may also be sent to the police department website at www.pbpd.org or through their Facebook page. To text a tip, text 274637, then put “PBPD” with the message.

A reward of $1,000 is available for information that leads to the identification and arrest of the person or persons responsible.