ATLANTA — When two men walked into a popular country store outside Atlanta, announced a holdup and fired a shot, owners Bobby and Gloria Doster never hesitated. The pair pulled out their own pistols and opened fire.
The armed suspect and his partner were killed. The Dosters won't be charged, according to local officials, because they were acting in self-defense.
"I just started shooting," said Gloria Doster, 56. "I was trying to blow his brains out is what I was trying to do."
Shoats Grocery & Package near Crawford, 70 miles east of Atlanta, is a well-known spot where locals stop for breakfast biscuits or lunch. Gloria Doster said the two men who came there Monday had something else in mind.
She was rearranging boxes of soda by the store's front door when a man wearing a wig walked inside, the fake hair draped in front of his face.
"I asked him, 'Can you see to walk?' " Doster said. Then she noticed a second man behind him wearing a mask. He announced a holdup.
One man grabbed Gloria Doster and pushed her toward the register. She said the other kept his gun on her 62-year-old husband, who also goes by the name Shoats.
She tried to open the register, but one of the men told her she wasn't moving fast enough and tried to shoot her husband. He missed, and his gun jammed.
At that point Bobby Doster pulled out a .380-caliber handgun and shot one of the suspects. Gloria Doster then went for a 9 mm pistol she keeps near the register.
"All hell broke loose," she said. "I was trying to shoot and dial 911 at the same time."
Both assailants took cover behind the store's meat counter as the Dosters opened fire. Gloria Doster said she doesn't know how many bullets were fired or how many times the assailants were hit.
Police arrived about five minutes after receiving Gloria Doster's call; the suspects died a short time later at a hospital.
The bloodshed, nevertheless, startled Gloria Doster, who has been around guns all her life and has used them for target shooting. "But I never figured I'd have to use them on anybody," she said.
She said the worst thing that's happened in the seven years the couple has owned the store was an after-hours break-in by teenagers three years ago. The burglars were promptly arrested.