No charges in store shooting

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Little B Convenience Store clerk who fatally shot an armed robber in June will not be prosecuted, according to an agreement from Lunenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement and a multi-jurisdictional grand jury.

The shooting occurred June 15 when Milton T. Gaither, 34, of Dinwiddie, attempted to rob the store shortly after 9 p.m.

“Gaither was wearing a mask, displayed a handgun and demanded money from the cash register,” said State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller shortly after the incident. “As Gaither fled the store, shots were fired.”

According to Geller, the fatal shooting, which was investigated by the agency, comes after the robber “displayed a handgun and demanded money from the cash register. As the armed robber fled the store, shots were fired,” Geller said.

Clement said he called the grand jury, which consists of citizens from the counties of Campbell, Charlotte, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Pittsylvania, to meet Monday in Lunenburg to allow citizens to be a part of the process in determining whether charges should be placed.

Clement said he submitted all of the evidence from the state investigation regarding the incident that occurred on the night of June 15.

In a press release, Clement said he also submitted the jury instructions for the four different degrees of homicide and the instructions for self-defense.

“After hearing the sworn testimony of six eyewitnesses, the investigating State Police agent, a Victoria police officer and the store clerk himself,

and after viewing the videos that had been obtained from the store’s surveillance system and from a neighboring restaurant, the multi-jurisdiction grand jury, after due deliberation, returned its finding that the clerk of the store acted in self-defense and that the killing was justified, and that the store clerk should not be indicted for any crime,” Clement said.

Clement said he would not release the name of the store clerk for safety reasons.

Gaither had known affiliation with the “Fifth Ward Gang” out of Petersburg according to State Agent Dawn Leslie, said Clement, and had an extensive criminal record of six felonies, including drug distribution near school property, burglary, grand larceny, auto larceny, probation violations and misdemeanor assaults.

According to Clement, one eyewitness was in the store — a customer right at the counter — when Gaither came in wearing a black hoodie pulled up over his head and a black mask. The clerk and the witness testified that Gaither stuck the handgun to the clerk’s face, hitting him with the muzzle of the gun in the forehead, causing the clerk to step back.

“The videos clearly showed every move by Gaither from three different camera angles acting aggressively,” Clement said. “The clerk gave him the money from the register, then Gaither demanded the change. He appeared to step away, but then came back and demanded the money from the lottery register.”

According to Clement, after getting that in the bag, Gaither walked away toward the front door, but then came back again and demanded Newport cigarettes.

“After grabbing those, he left out the front door,” said Clement.

According to Clement, the clerk said he feared that the robber might return once again, so he grabbed a .380 handgun at the register and went to the front door, hoping to see which way the robber went so he could tell the police. He had also told his cousin with whom he had been on the phone before the robbery to call 911.
“When he pushed open the front door, he was shocked to see the robber still in the parking lot about 15-20 feet away, picking up money he had dropped,” Clement said. “The clerk shot upward into the air as a warning shot which is clearly seen in the video. The clerk said the defendant looked back at him and pointed the gun over his shoulder and fired at him. The clerk said he then fired back about four or five times as Gaither ran away.”

According to Clement, Gaither ran across the remainder of the parking lot, across Main Street and down to Sixth Street in front of the Nazarene Church where he fell to the ground.

“Sgt. Daniel Medlin, of the Victoria Police Department, said he took the gun of Gaither, which was in the street to his side, checked it, and found that one bullet had been discharged,” Clement said. “It was in the position in the cylinder of the revolver to have been fired and moved to the next round.”

According to Clement, one witness said she and her husband were in their car in front of Little B when they heard the shots.

“They turned around and found Gaither lying in the street. The woman said his gun was in his hand, and she kicked it aside and tried to assist Gaither,” Clement said. “One older male witness said he was coming down the street at the time of the shooting and saw Gaither actually shoot his gun toward the Little B store, and then heard other shots.”

According to Clement, an autopsy was conducted, and the preliminary determination is that Gaither had been struck in the back by a bullet, which is what killed him. He also had a second bullet wound to the buttocks which did not completely penetrate the flesh and actually fell out when he was turned over.

Clement said he appreciated the cooperation of the witnesses, including the store clerk, who was represented by Robert Hawthorne Jr. and his associate, Brittany Dean, who were allowed by law to sit in for the testimony of their client, but were not allowed to speak up or participate other than to advise their client if necessary.