- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A convenience store clerk just two months on the job was in the wrong place at the right time when the subject of a nationwide manhunt strolled into the Pratt, Kansas, store, pointed a gun at him and asked for his keys.

Riley Juel, in a telephone interview Thursday with The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/2oeSFjQ ), said the man was Alex Deaton, who was wanted for two Mississippi slayings, a New Mexico carjacking and the shooting of a store clerk west of Wichita.

Juel said Deaton told him he only wanted his keys, but then Deaton shot him in the abdomen. Juel said he ran into a back room of the Kwik Shop and called 911.

He had no idea until after surgery who it was that had come so close to taking his life.

“I couldn’t believe that. Hearing that I got away from a guy that (allegedly) did all that, it’s unbelievable,” Juel said.

Juel said he told the 911 operator where he worked, that he had just been shot and the suspect took his car.

“I gave them a description of my car,” he said. Then he described Deaton as “a bald guy with heavy coat and kind of like a short kind of guy. But then I’m tall, so everyone’s kind of short to me.”

Juel said that as he waited on the ambulance, he kept reminding himself to stay calm.

“I kept telling myself it’s going to be OK as long as you stay calm,” he said.

Authorities arrested Deaton after he allegedly fled the store with Juel’s car and wrecked it in a neighboring county.

Deaton’s alleged spree started with the slaying of his girlfriend, Heather Robinson, a nurse, in her Rankin County, Mississippi apartment. He is then accused of shooting Brenda Pinter, 69, to death in the office of the Dixon Baptist Church in Neshoba County. Deaton then allegedly returned to Robinson’s apartment, and as he fled, police believe he shot a jogger. The woman was not fatally injured.

A national manhunt began when authorities realized Deaton had left the area.

Deaton resurfaced near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said he came out of the woods at the La Luz Trail head parking area with a shovel and a gun and allegedly forced a couple into the trunk of their car. When they tried to escape, Deaton allegedly shot the man in the backside and the woman was grazed.

Authorities say he wrecked the car in Kansas as he ran from police, and he went into the Kwik Shop on foot. That’s where Juel came into the picture.

There was $30,000 in reward money allocated by Central Mississippi Crimestoppers, the FBI, Priority One Bank, and Rankin County for any information leading to Deaton’s arrest.

Juel’s mother, Michelle Brozek, said she feels her son should be eligible for that money since it was his description of the suspect and vehicle that ultimately led police to Deaton.

Under national Crimestoppers rules, though, the $2,500 offered by their organization is not available to Juel since he called 911 and not a Crimestoppers number.

“I definitely feel like the kid deserves something, but it’s strictly the policies and procedures of Crimestoppers nationally,” said Central Mississippi Crimestoppers tip coordinator Chuck Harrison. “Based on the circumstances and the policies we have to go by as far as Crimestoppers, he’s not eligible for our money, but I can’t speak on behalf of FBI, the Rankin County Board of Supervisors and Priority One.”

The FBI is looking into it.

Priority One did not returned calls for comment.

___

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide