They don’t mess around in South Carolina. A would be robber found that out the hard way when he and an associate attempted to rob a barbershop at gunpoint in Columbia. Surprise – both a barber and a client were themselves armed and they opened fire.
Elmurray “Billy” Bookman was cutting hair at his barber station, the second chair from the door, when two masked men, one wielding a pistol and the other carrying a shotgun, entered Next Up Barber & Beauty, he said.
Minutes later, Bookman and one of his customers drew their weapons as the robbers were taking money from customers and employees. They fired shots that left one of the suspects dead and sent another on the run just before 7 p.m. Friday.
“The kids were crying, hollering, and their parents were hollering,” Bookman said. “I think (the suspects) were getting kind of frustrated. They started putting their hands on some of the customers.”
About 20 people, including several women and children, were at the barbershop on Fort Jackson Boulevard. It sits behind the Applebee’s restaurant on Devine Street, across from the Cross Hill Market that houses Whole Foods.
Bookman said he just wanted to protect the crowd of people inside the shop.
The men forced one of the shop’s customers and one of the barbers to the floor, Bookman said. Then the man with the pistol started taking money out of the pockets of the barbers’ jackets, he said.
When asked for his money, the customer in Bookman’s chair told the suspect with the pistol that his money was at a chair along the wall, Bookman said.
When that suspect turned his back to go search the customers sitting along the wall, Bookman’s client pulled his own gun and fired at the suspect. Bookman, too, pulled his weapon out and shot at the suspect, he said. (Columbia police confirmed that both men had valid concealed carry permits.)
“I was thinking we had to keep everybody safe,” he said.
Columbia police say that man later died at a hospital. His partner was able to run out the front door and is still on the run.
The barbers say their concern now is how the children who witnessed it all are recovering and want the person responsible for their fear caught.
“If you know them, turn them in,” said Bookman. “Because if you don’t, they’re going to do somebody else like that and this time it could be an innocent victim getting killed.”
If you know who the man is or where he could be, you’re asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-Crime-SC.