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Store owner killed

One of the owners of the Inland service station on West Shotwell Street was fatally shot Wednesday night by a masked robber.

Datta Atul Dave, 48, and her husband, the owners of the store, were preparing to close for the night, according to an Inland employee on Thursday. It had been slow and Datta had just completed the nightly paperwork. She went behind the counter and was talking with her husband.

Shortly before 10 p.m. a man wearing a black hood over his head with holes cut out for his eyes entered the store.

The man began waving a gun and demanding the money from the register. Dave, who was standing behind the register, froze—apparently from fear, according to another witness in the store at the time of the robbery.

The masked robber shot her in the chest before he fled the store without stealing a thing.

Two witnesses told police they saw the robber get into a silver SUV and drive away heading east on Shotwell Street, according to incident reports. Both witnesses also described the man as being a black male, between 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet tall weighing approximately 140 pounds. The witness inside the store said the man was wearing blue jean shorts and a blue shirt.

Bainbridge Public Safety Sgt. Jon Harrison and EMS were the first to arrive on the scene. EMS immediately began performing CPR on Dave. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations out of Thomasville, Ga., was called in to help investigate the crime and process the crime scene.

BPS Investigator Frank Green said in addition to reports of the robber fleeing in a vehicle, they also received information the man may have fled on foot.

“We are investigating all the information we receive,” Green said.

On Thursday, investigators from BPS and the Decatur County Sheriff’s office walked the area surrounding the Inland service station, canvassing for potential witnesses and searching for any evidence the robber may have dropped.

Dave and her husband purchased the convenience store two years ago when they moved to Bainbridge from Chicago, Ill. The couple originally came to the United States from India.

An Inland clerk and numerous employees of Yesterday’s Dinner described Dave as very friendly and nice.

“She was a really sweet person,” said the clerk.

If you have information pertaining to the murder call Bainbridge Public Safety at (229) 248-2038.

Taylor Seay can be reached by e-mail at taylor.seay@thepostsearchlight.com, or by telephone at (229) 246-2827, Ext. 113.