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Station clerk didn't fight back for fear of more accusations

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

A gas station clerk who had earlier been accused of pulling a gun during a suspected gas- drive-off was afraid to defend himself during a robbery for fear of leaving himself open to further accusations, the station's owner said Wednesday.

Sam Abusaleem, who runs USA Gas at 1823 Beltline Road S.W., said the clerk approached a carload of people early Sunday and asked for a deposit on the gas they were pumping because he suspected a drive-off was about to take place.

"They just kept driving around the pump. From looking at the video, maybe they were trying to position themselves at the back row of pumps so they could take off, and that's what they did," Abusaleem said.

Clerk Walid Hachichou went to the passenger, a tall, slim man, possibly in his early 20s, who was pumping the gas, and asked for a deposit, Abusaleem said.

Hachichou grew more suspicious when the passenger told him the driver was going to pay but the driver told him the passenger was going to pay, Abusaleem said.

There were also two female passengers in the back seat of the dark blue Neon, Abusaleem said.

Hachichou shut off the pump and demanded $15 for the gas they already had pumped. That's when the male passenger assaulted him, Abusaleem said.

"You can't really tell how many times they punched him from the video, but you can see where they kicked him in the stomach and shoved him and made him fall down by the pumps. They hit the gas hard and missed him by inches, so they could have hit him with the car, too," Abusaleem said.

"I asked him why he didn't defend himself. He said, 'I'm scared they would accuse me of something,' like that other guy who accused him of pulling the gun. I said, 'At least, you should defend yourself.' It's really upsetting."

A 21-year-old Decatur man had reported to police that Hachichou pulled a gun on him and demanded money while he was pumping gas at USA on Oct. 12.

Abusaleem said the man only filed a police report days later in an attempt to get his car back after he punched Abusaleem and fled the station on foot when confronted during an attempted gas drive-off.

Hachichou was armed but never drew his gun during that incident, Abusaleem said.

Hachichou was not armed during Sunday's incident.

Abusaleem turned a copy of the security video over to Decatur police, who are investigating the incident as a robbery because force was used.

"When I saw the video, I was really upset because this poor guy is working hard, working nights and putting in a lot of hours, and out of nowhere they just come and assault him, take the gas and drive-off. The police really need to do something about these drive-offs, because people are trying it everyday. They've gotten to where they want it by force," Abusaleem said.

Abusamleem's station, which is set up to allow customers to drive up, pump gas and pay the attendant as they drive past a booth, is often targeted by gas thieves, but Abusaleem said he does not intend to change the way his gas station operates.

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