Video released of suspect in Old Fourth Ward store owner's slaying

Atlanta police have released surveillance video of the gunman suspected of killing a popular Old Fourth Ward convenience store owner during a Wednesday night robbery attempt.

The video, released late Thursday afternoon, shows the gunman entering Banna Grocery, firing a shot, then turning and walking out the door.

Later Thursday night, officers conducted traffic roadblocks in the neighborhood in their search for clues to the shooting, which was followed eight hours later by the home invasion robbery of a family living upstairs from the store.

The shooting happened shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday at the convenience store, which is one of four businesses in the two-story brick building at the corner of Irwin and Howell streets in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones told the AJC that Zone 6 officers responding to a report of a person shot found the store owner suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

The victim, identified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office as 48-year-old Suhrid Das, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

“Witnesses stated that the victim was closing up the store when he was confronted by an unknown assailant and shot one time,” Jones said.

Investigators said Das was shot during an apparent robbery. It wouldn’t be the only overnight robbery in the building, which also houses a barber shop, a tax service and a small candy store as well as three second-floor apartments.

Taria Camerino, co-owner of the Sugar Coated Radical candy store, said she had just moved into one of the upstairs apartments with her two children, ages 10 and 7, and her partner.

"I was really excited because I would be able to come downstairs and work while my kids played upstairs and rested," she said.

Camerino told the AJC that about 6:15 a.m. Thursday, a man climbed up air conditioning pipes on the outside of the building and smashed out the window of her 10-year-old son’s bedroom.

“We just moved in so we were painting and we were all sleeping in the front bedroom, so no one was in there,” Camerino said. “I called the police as soon as I heard the smashing.”

She said that she closed and locked the door to the bedroom where she, her children and her partner were, “and my partner and I sat in front of the door to block it if he was busting in.”

She said she stayed on the phone with 911 operators, talking at a whisper.

“He busted through the door and pushed us out of the way, and he just started asking for money and whatever we had,” Camerino said.

“My only thought was to put myself between him and the children,” she said, tearing up as she recounted the experience.

“I said, ‘I have money, but it’s only five dollars, but I own the candy store and I have money downstairs,’” Camerino said. “My only thing was to get him away from the kids.”

She said she got her keys, and led the intruder downstairs to her store.

“He made me empty out the till, and made me stay under a table until the cops came,” Camerino said, adding that the robber got away with $400.

She said that while she had felt safe in the neighborhood since opening her store last September, “the past couple of days have been weird. My car got broken into two nights ago, and a bike got stolen off our bike rack.”

Her son, Syama Lee, said he was “very scared” after the incident.

“I know that he’s gone now, but he might come back,” the boy said. “I’m sad and angry because we lost that money he wanted, but it was good because we didn’t get hurt.”

Syama and his mother both said the store owner killed Wednesday night was “very nice.”

“We would chat sometimes,” Camerino said. “He always seemed really sweet.”

Camerino said she had been told that police were investigating whether the suspect in the fatal shooting was the same man who robbed her.

She described her intruder as as a “lighter-skinned” black man, about 30 years old, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds. He had a shaved head, a mustache and a goatee and was wearing a hoodie and dark pants, clothing that she said was similar to that worn by the suspect in the fatal shooting.

Her partner, Ashley Hinson, said they were already “a little on edge” after the shooting. She called her experience Thursday morning “a nightmare” despite the intruder never showing a weapon.

“He was obviously strong enough to hurt any of us,” she said. “It was a heart jumping out of your throat kind of experience.”

Wymon Billups, 65, said he was born and raised in the Old Fourth Ward, and has lived there all his life.

He called Das a “good guy” with a “good personality.”

“He was straight up, he was alright,” Billups said. "Everybody around here knows him.”

Billups said Das had been robbed two or three times in the past.

“They didn’t take his life, but they took his life this time and that was real ugly,” he said, calling the killing senseless.

“They didn’t have to hurt him,” Billups said. “Whoever did it, they didn’t have to do that, because I know he’s gonna give them what they want.”