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Clerk Killed at Hollywood Video Store

30 Sep, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

A Hollywood Video clerk was shot and killed during an attempted robbery Sept. 26 in northwest Harris County, Texas.

The clerk, 23-year-old Bryan Lawrence, had just moved to the Houston area in May from Wichita Falls, Texas.

According to various published news reports, the shooting happened early in the morning at the Hollywood Video location on West Road, near the West Sam Houston Parkway. Lawrence was supposed to open the store at 9 a.m., but when the manager arrived at 11 the doors were still shut. The manager found an area behind the counter had been ransacked and called the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators told one TV station that the victim had been shot at least once and that robbery appeared to be the motive. No suspect was apprehended.

In a statement, Eric English, the video rental chain's SVP, said, “We are deeply saddened by this violent act and the death of one of our valued employee-partners. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and friends.”

The store will remain closed indefinitely. Hollywood's general manager of operations and several counselors arrived at the scene shortly after the body was discovered in a back office by the manager and a sheriff's deputy. Chain executives promise to work with the local Crime Stoppers to establish a reward fund seeking information about the crime.

The slaying came a little more than two years after two other Hollywood Video clerks were murdered, also during a robbery — and also in Texas. Last May, a judge ruled a mistrial in the case of Roderick Keith Cooper, accused of shooting and killing two Hollywood Video store clerks during a robbery in southwest Houston on Sept. 4, 2001.

The victims, Angela Sanchez, 26, and Kola Osemwengie, 18, were shot execution-style in the backs of their heads. Cooper, a former employee of the video store, confessed to the murders, but the jury hearing the case sent a note to the judge after eight hours of deliberations stating that they were hopelessly deadlocked, 11-1.

The most recent video store murder took place in August 2002, when Leeanne Anderton, manager of a Blockbuster Video store in Ann Arbor, Mich., was hit with a brick and stabbed, allegedly after her 19-year-old assistant manager arrived to loot the till.

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