The $400 two robbers took from Manda’s Variety Store on First Street, Coconut Grove, on Wednesday evening was nothing compared to the loss of a father and a friend, the store’s owner tearfully pointed out yesterday.
Albert Delhomme, who has operated the business for four years, said two masked men with guns raided his establishment before shooting Mario Cartwright, a father of three, who was killed as he entered the business as the gun-wielding robbers were leaving.
Delhomme said the men gathered the employees and customers and forced them to the back of the store as they robbed the place.
“The cashier was there,” said Delhomme, who was not present during the incident, but watched it on surveillance footage.
“The packing boy was here, but the guy who got shot was a customer, who was on his way in and [the robbers] were on their way out.
“As he was coming in and they were walking out — bam, two times. They shot him [in the shoulder] and they shot him in his chest.”
When asked if he thought the men shot the customer out of fear, Delhomme said, “For me, it looked like they were [in the] 17 to 18 age bracket. I think, probably, they [were] kind of [scared], because they saw him and they knew him or something like that, because he [would] be around there; he was a friend of [ours].”
He said this was not the first time his store was robbed, but it was the scariest time.
“When it happened before I was okay, but right now with two guns and two guys and someone getting killed it’s kinda [scary],” Delhomme said.
“They had masks on and they had hoodies on, so what the cameras showed was [that] they walked from this angle and came straight in here.”
Employees were too shaken to speak yesterday.
Delhomme said he and his employees knew Cartwright well.
He said, “He [was] a friend of mine, a good friend.”
He added, “He [was] a guy. Sometimes if I moved then he would just come around and say, ‘Hey, brother, how is it there? I’m looking out for you.’”
Delhomme questioned why the robbers shot Cartwright after they got the money.
“Why would you shoot somebody?” he asked.
“It’s insane. It’s not like he was fighting with them. He was on his way in to get some groceries. Man, that’s sad. It’s crazy.”
Fighting tears, Delhomme said the shooting was especially scary because it could have easily been him on the other side of the gun.
“My daughter was here,” he said.
“I picked her up from here and dropped her home, and on my way back here I [got] caught [in] traffic.”
Wiping tears from his eyes, he continued, “It’s not nice. It’s not nice. He [left] a family and three kids. I think the oldest one is 12 and the last one is three. It’s crazy. You know, when it hits home.”
He continued, “For me it looked like whoever was coming out was going to get shot, because for me it looked like they were so young. I don’t know. [They were] probably [scared or] probably knew him and just shot him.”
Delhomme said the armored truck rarely left $400 in the cash register, “but things happen”.
“Four hundred dollars is not that much, but this is a small business, so for us it’s something because we survive like day by day,” he said.
“The money’s nothing, but the friendship, it’s gone. It’s gone.”
Cartwright’s nephew, Renaldo Farrington, said he is shattered and cannot believe his uncle is dead.
“Of course I’m in shock, because he grew up here all his life,” Farrington said.
“He could come out and call everybody [by] name. He [knew] everybody and everybody [knew] him. [The family is] in shock. They [are] in disbelief. They can’t believe it. It’s just so sudden, so quick.”
Farrington said losing Cartwright was like losing a second father.
“I’ve known him all my life,” he said.
“He would just watch over me. When my daddy [died], he was like [another] father and now senselessness just [left] his three children with no father, nothing.
“He [was] renting. Now, we don’t know what will happen now, because he was the only provider in the house.
Although he said he wants more police presence in the area, Delhomme said he understands that it’s not possible because of limited resources.
Police said last night they had no one in custody in relation to the country’s latest murder.
There have been 85 murders in The Bahamas for the year so far. This compares to 120 murders around the same time last year.