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Saturday, July 12, 2014

You can't keep a good man down

Thursday, May 10, 2007

(Photo)
Philip Berkley
THAYER -- If you're going to have to be involved in an armed robbery and shot, Philip Berkley said Thayer is a good place to have that happen.

Berkley was in the wrong place at the wrong time April 1 when he entered the Bullseye Convenience Store in Thayer for a cup of hot coffee.

Berkley, 68, from Bolivar, was in the area with a companion visiting friends at Mammoth Spring.

"We had stayed up late and when my friend and I got back to the motel we decided a cup of coffee was in order, so I went to McDonalds in Thayer. It was closed and I remembered the Bullseye stayed open all night," he said.

Berkley said as he entered the store he noticed there was no attendant at the counter but didn't think much about it. "I thought she might be stocking the cooler or something," he said.

Unknown at the time to Berkley, the store clerk had just been held up by a lone gunman and was being held in the storage area of the store.

Berkley had just walked in on an armed robbery.

"I walked to the back of the store where I knew the drink counter was located and it was there I encountered a young man with a gun," Berkley said.

Berkley said at first he thought it was an April Fool's joke.

"The young fellow was very nice and very polite. He said 'Sir, you are going to have to go into the back room'," Berkley said.

The robber, believed to be Jesse Johnson, 17, of Mammoth Spring, was wearing camoflauge and had what appeared to be a Halloween mask over his face. "I realized he was young, but at the time didn't think he was just 17," Berkley said.

He said he then looked over his shoulder and saw someone, who he learned later was the store clerk, in the back room. That was when he decided this was not a joke. "I also decided I was not going in the back room," Berkley said.

That was when Berkley said he reached for the .44 magnum pistol in Johnson's hand and it fired, striking him in the foot.

"The kid ran out the back door of the store. I didn't realize how severe my injuries were and I kept trying to get up and chase him. I couldn't even walk," he said.

Berkley said he was taken by air ambulance to St. John's Hospital in Springfield and was released last week.

"They have taken some stomach tissue to help develop the hole in my heel," he said.

Berkley said he still has two more major surgeries ahead of him but says he is doing well and the doctors expect him to completely recover.

Berkley said he works full time at an equipment rental company and expects to be able to return to work. Will he be back to visit the Thayer/Mammoth Spring area? "Of course. I love it there. Everyone from the police to the paramedics to the helicopter pilot were so nice. If you're going to get shot, Thayer is a nice place to have it happen," he said.

Berkley said he has never been shot before and had never been involved in a robbery.

"My friend that was with me the night I was shot had a T-shirt made for me. It says 'I was shot in the bullseye'," Berkley said.

Johnson, who is awaiting a court hearing was charged with first-degree robbery, first degree assault and armed criminal action.



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