One man is dead and two are recovering after being shot by a gun store owner during a burglary of his business Thursday morning.
Stephen Bayazes Jr., 57, told officers he and his wife were asleep in an apartment at the back of the business, Guns and Ammo Gunsmith, 522 Edgefield Road, shortly before 4 a.m. when he awoke after hearing a loud crash and the activation of a silent alarm.
Bayazes grabbed an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and found three men loading guns into a van that had crashed through the side wall of the business.
After hearing the men threaten to kill him, Bayazes told officers he shot one 30-round magazine of .223 caliber bullets before retreating to his bedroom to reload.
As he left the room, he saw two of the men drive away in the van. K’Raven Aude Goodwin, 20, of Eastover, S.C., was wounded and left at the gun shop.
Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said Goodwin died of gunshot wounds shortly after arriving at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
The two remaining suspects were found at Waffle House on Martintown Road, about 3 miles away. Investigators said the men, who had both been shot, stopped at the restaurant to seek help.
Eddie Stewart, 30, of Columbia, and Franklin Robinson, 27, of Gadsden, S.C., were taken to a hospital.
Hours after the incident, a construction crew worked to repair the damaged wall. Parts of the ceiling and glass from display cases still littered the floor.
The store owner said it was not the first time the store has been a target. In 2009, the store was burglarized. Shortly afterward, Bayazes and his wife moved into an apartment in the back of the store after it was burglarized in 2009.
Feemster said Bayazes was within his rights to use lethal force, according to South Carolina law.
“If someone is breaking in your home or business, you have the right to defend yourself and not retreat,” he said.
Aiken County sheriff’s investigators have obtained warrants for Stewart and Robinson on charges of first degree burglary, grand larceny and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime. Feemster said they will be taken into custody after their release from the hospital.
The van the three men used in the crime was discovered to be stolen from New Vision Fellowship International located on the first block of East Marion Avenue, said North Augusta Public Safety Lt. Tim Thornton. He said North Augusta Public Safety will not be charging the men in the theft since there were no witnesses to the theft itself. Thornton said the sheriff’s office can charge the men with receiving stolen property, but Feemster was unsure if they were pursuing those charges.
Bayazes, who was not injured, declined to be interviewed. Charges will not be filed against the store owner, the sheriff’s office said.