Sunday, October 23, 2011

"... to shoot someone for a handful of cash."

15-Year-Old North Central Student Arrested For Shooting Female Clerk
Brandon Payton VP Shooting
15-year-old North Central High School student Brandon Payton was arrested at school for the vicious robbery.

INDIANAPOLIS - A convenience store clerk is in critical condition after being shot. Police say they have the suspected shooter in custody - a 15-year-old North Central High School student.

The shooting happened at the Village Pantry on the corner of 86th and Ditch. Metro Police said the suspect was five feet four inches tall, skinny and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. Police took still pictures from surveillance video of the suspect to some area high schools and found him wearing pretty much the same clothes.

The student was arrested at North Central High School, where police say they worked with school administrators to identify and apprehend the suspect.

A statement issued by the Washington Township school said, "The arrest came in the hallway during a class period, so no other students were present. No weapons were found on the student or in the student's locker."

The shooting occurred at the VP at 86th and Ditch on Indy's North side.

The store was closed and a security guard sealed off the gas pumps Friday. All day and into the afternoon, customers were turned away.

According to police, it was after midnight when the suspect came into the store wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. The victim was behind the counter and asked the young man to remove his hood. He did, and then fired a shot.

"The suspect told the clerk, 'This is a hold-up.' He then produced a small caliber weapon," said Officer Kendale Adams, IMPD.

The clerk, who police have identified as 45-year-old Marcella Birnell, was taken to St. Vincent Hospital in critical condition.

This is an area of town not accustomed to violent crime. Jean Johnson works at a hair salon right behind the Village Pantry and said some of her regular customers decided to stay home.

"There is a fear of getting out where there is somebody that is willing to shoot someone for a handful of cash. They don't particularly want to be out and around until this person gets caught and I can't say that I blame them," she said.

Police say the motive appears to be Robbery. The suspect is being held as a juvenile for Attempted Murder and Robbery. It will be up to the Prosecutor's Office whether he will be charged as an adult.

UPDATE 10/22/2011
Marcella (Marcy) Birnell shot in the head during a robbery at a VP in Indianapolis.
Marcella (Marcy) Birnell was shot in the head during a robbery at a VP in Indianapolis by a 15-year-old.

The family of the Village Pantry employee who was shot in the head made a statement Saturday night asking all to keep Marcy in their thoughts as she recovers. Worst of all, it turns out that the same suspect robbed the same VP and the same clerk 13 months prior.

Marcella Birnell was shot in the head while working at the Village Pantry early Friday morning.

Saturday evening, her family released a letter thanking those who have shared their thoughts and prayers over the recent tragic events that have affected so many lives.

Her family wrote, “Marcy has been a faithful and hard working employee of Village Pantry for nearly 10 years, often working the nightshift, and always making her customers smile.”

Marcy remains in critical condition after being shot during an attempted robbery.

The release stated, “We are thankful for the thorough work of the Indianapolis Police Department in this investigation. We are trusting in the judicial process and pray for swift and accurate justice. While we appreciate and share in the outrage expressed by the community, it also saddens us that the alleged perpetrator is a 15-year-old high school student, and we know that his family is also greatly affected by the choice he has made.”

Further details will be provided on the Facebook page, “Prayers for Marcy Birnell”, which is devoted to Marcy’s healing process.

UPDATE 04/2013
Brandon Payton sat in the courtroom, showing no emotion. The 16-year-old sat in jail garb as he waited wait to hear his sentence Friday.

The judge sentenced Payton to 35 years in prison for shooting Marcella “Marcy” Birnell in the head during a botched robbery at the Village Pantry at 86th Street and Ditch Road.
Teen apologizes to family

“I want to say to the victim and the victim’s family, I’m sorry,” Payton said as he stood before the courtroom just before he received his sentence.

Payton agreed to a plea deal that included him admitting guilt to attempted robbery, a Class A felony, and robbery a Class B felony.

The sentence hearing lasted about 45 minutes Friday. After it wrapped up we asked Birnell’s relatives for their reaction to the sentence.

“I think this is a tragedy for both families. It has affected both families on a great level,” said Birnell’s brother-in-law Perry Tole.

Birnell’s relatives and others have been on a mission to improve security at late-night convenience stores. This comes after several other Village Pantry workers were shot by gunmen or even killed.

“Lawmakers need to step in and protect these people,” Tole said as he talked about store workers working the late shift by themselves.

Those concerned about safety at late-night stores held hearings with Department of Labor and state lawmakers. The goal was to develop uniform rules at the stores, such as ensuring that two workers work the late shift together, that bullet proof glass be placed around checkout counters, that more surveillance cameras be installed.

During the sentencing Friday, though, the Department of Labor released a statement saying it has reached an agreement with Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association to increase educational and compliance management at late night retail. The statement did not make mention of developing any long-term security measures.

“It’s another attempt to kick the can down the road and put something into action,” said Birnell’s family friend Theresia Whitfield. “They are resistant to make changes.”

WTHR Channel 13, Teen Arrested In North Side Village Pantry Robbery
WISH-TV Channel 8, Brandon Payton Sentenced To 35 Years