Store clerk opens up about robbery suspect killed in deputy-involved shooting

A robbery at knifepoint forces a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy to fire at a suspect. A clerk from the store the suspect tried to rob spoke to WINK News about the dangerous situation and what they’re doing now.

A deadly deputy-involved shooting on Sunday began with a robbery at the Estero Food Mart. This was nerve-wracking for Johnathan Bartolan who has only been working here for one month.

“It makes me feel scared, honestly,” Bartolan said.

An employee told LCSO that Joshua Hammock, 30, got away from the food mart with a 12-pack of beer. Before stealing the beer, he threatened that same employee with a knife.

Joshua Hammock, 30
Joshua Hammock, 30 Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office

“You never know what’s gonna happen out here,” Bartolan said.

After taking the beer, he tapped on a customer’s car door with what is believed to be the same knife he threatened the clerk with.

Rich Kolko is WINK News’ Safety and Security Specialist. “Probably wanted their car. Just get out of there. If somebody is knocking on your car window with a knife get out of there,” Kolko said.

Luckily, the driver sped off. This is something Kolko says is “smart” in a dangerous situation like this one.

“Police are looking for good witnesses, not heroes. If you can provide a good description of the person, what kind of weapon they were carrying, the clothing they were wearing, that’s much more helpful to the police than trying to intervene and stop the person,” said Kolko.

Deputies say Hammock also robbed a 7-Eleven. They were able to find him not far from that store after the robbery. That’s when he charged at law enforcement with a knife. So they fired weapons at Hammock, killing him.

“If a person comes to like, two places with bad intentions and like, what do you think the possible outcome of that is…” said Bartolan.

Johnathan Bartolan keeps his guard up now after what happened over the weekend. “You know, if it happens once, you know, it can definitely happen again,” Bartolan said.

Joshua Hammock does have an extensive criminal background. Lee County deputies say it extends through Citrus, Pinellas, Hillsborough and St. Johns Counties. Hammock was also arrested in January of 2021 for battery on a law enforcement officer and a pre-trial diversion plan was put in place for that.

Reporter:Amanda Porter
Writer:Drew Hill
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