Pinal County deputies identify store clerk killed during robbery; suspect in custody
PINAL COUNTY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputies have arrested a suspect in connection to the death of a man working at his family market on Sunday morning. Billy Johnson, 31, was arrested Sunday afternoon in connection with the murder of 41-year-old Mohammed Abul Hasim hours earlier at the market in Arizona City.
The search for Johnson began after deputies and Arizona City firefighters responded to a welfare check request at the Sunlite Market, just off Sunland Gin Road and Concordia Drive, around 7:15 a.m. There, Hasim was found injured and not breathing. He was pronounced dead by officials at the scene.
Investigators say security cameras at the store and neighboring businesses captured images of the suspect. That evidence and tips from the community led to Johnson’s home in Casa Grande. He was seen leaving his residence around 4:30 p.m. and arrested during a traffic stop a short time later.
According to court documents, surveillance video inside the store shows Johnson walking behind the counter with a gun pointed at Hasim. Johnson reportedly strikes Hasim on the head with the gun, which goes off but hits a soda machine. Hasim is seen opening the cash register and emptying his pockets while Johnson allegedly punches him in the face several times.
Johnson then turns his attention to the cash register while Hasim backs away, grabs a large metal pole, and hits Johnson. The two begin fighting. According to documents, surveillance video shows Hasim striking Johnson multiple times with the pole while getting punched by Johnson.
Soon, the two can’t be seen by any surveillance camera for a short time. Eventually, Johnson can be seen from behind, still hitting Hasim, who falls to the ground, not moving.
Johnson reportedly continued rummaging through the store, putting items into a bag. He can be seen pouring alcohol on several blood spots on the floor, documents say.
After posting photos from the surveillance video on social media, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office received several phone calls identifying Johnson. Callers say he was in their businesses around 2 a.m. the same morning. One of the businesses required that customers verify their age with identification, and Johnson’s ID was scanned. From there, deputies searched Johnson’s Motor Vehicle Division information and found his address. They went to his house and took Johnson into custody around 4 p.m. on Sunday.
During his interview with deputies, Johnson said he had used a large amount of cocaine the previous night and drank alcohol, court documents say. He also said he didn’t remember much of the night but remembered allegedly robbing and killing someone and said this multiple times.
Johnson reportedly said he thinks he shot Hasim. However, when deputies found his body, they noted pools of blood and said the victim appeared to have been hit in the head with the pole.
Johnson was booked into the Pinal County Jail for first-degree murder and armed robbery.
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