Witness claims armed customer thwarted robbery attempt in West Asheville

Shot of gun in the face of clerk at M & J Food Mart. (Photo credit: M & J Food Mart)

Witnesses of a convenience store robbery attempt Friday night said a gun-toting customer may have saved the day.

Surveillance video from the store showed a scary scene at M&J Food Mart on Old Haywood Road n West Asheville .

In the footage, two masked men can be seen running toward the store. Then, one of them holds a gun to the clerk's face.

At that point, the the employee grabs at the gun.

The store owner said the other masked man had a Taser.

The clerk, who said he thought it was a joke at first, said he was Tased twice by a suspect.

"They wore jackets and masks," witness John Smathers said. "I see people coming, I see a gun. I look to where my fiancee is and I go straight for her and put her on the floor and cover her. "

He heard two gunshots but tried to assure his fiancee Brittany.

"I just kept telling my fiancee, 'It's going to be okay, it's going to be okay, sweetie,'" he recalled. "'We're going to be fine.'"

Smathers said at least one of the shots came from a customer outside the store.

The store owner pointed to an image of that man holding his hands up after firing at the gunman.

"Right time, right place, you know," Smathers said. "Saved the day."

Asheville Police have active warrants for robbery with a dangerous weapon and simple assault for the juvenile suspect who was shot the scene. That suspect is at Mission Hospital. There's been no word on the second masked man in the video. The APD is still investigating.

Smathers has a message to the customer who intervened.

"Thank you for being the person who stepped in, you know. Honestly, at that moment, I was very scared for her," he said, referring to his fiance', thankful she was unharmed.

"We could have all lost our lives, you don't know. Just thank you."

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