Video shows slain clerk ‘did everything right’

Officials ask public to help find gunman

By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / December 30, 2009

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

Convenience store clerk Surendra Dangol appeared calm and offered no resistance last Saturday afternoon even as the menacing man dressed in black stood on the other side of the counter and pointed a gun at him.

Dangol held his hands in the air several times during the robbery at the Jamaica Plain store, but never made any sudden moves, surveillance footage from the store revealed yesterday.

“He didn’t act rashly or try to be a hero, and for that good judgment he was shot to death in cold blood,’’ Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said yesterday morning during a press conference in which the video was made public.

While the camera captured the homicide at the Tedeschi Food Shops on Centre Street, police released only the footage leading up to the shooting.

“This is a shocking crime, not just because a man was killed, but because he was gunned down for a small stack of bills that he gave up willingly,’’ Conley said.

Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey said Dangol “did everything right in this case.’’

Authorities are studying the video, their primary piece of evidence, and hope to gain more information that could lead them to the arrest of the robber and at least one accomplice, the driver of a getaway car.

The robber was described as a light-skinned male, about 6 feet tall. Police said they believe the robber may have a slight limp.

Authorities are also scrutinizing the robber’s footwear, said Linskey. “They seem to be made of a unique fabric, a hiking boot, maybe from a climbing store.’’

The video indicates that several people passed the robber while he loitered outside for about 20 minutes prior to entering the store.

Police are attempting to find and interview a man who sat near the robber on a bench in front of the store and appeared to have had a brief conversation with him before catching a bus about five to 10 minutes before the suspect entered the store. That person is not considered a suspect.

The robber approached the store at about 2:30 p.m. During the time he paced outside, he motioned for the driver of a white car to back up. The driver, who had parked near the front of the store, backed up out of range of the surveillance camera.

Inside the store, the robber, dressed in a black cap and a black coat with gray gloves and a scarf covering the lower half of his face, approached the counter carrying a blue backpack in one hand.

The robber reached into his coat pocket to pull out a handgun. Dangol raised both hands to the air, and the robber handed him the backpack. Dangol then opened the cash register and stuffed its contents into the pack, while the robber held one hand to the scarf covering his face. The robber stretched his other arm towards Dangol, leaving about a foot between the muzzle of the gun and the clerk.

Police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said Dangol never moved from behind the counter during the entire robbery.

Police have sent the video to a federal crime lab in hope it can be enhanced enough to be able to read the car’s license plate and perhaps discover other information. The car is believed to be a Plymouth Acclaim, made between 1989 and 1995.

The gunman entered the store at 3 p.m., according to police. The surveillance video does not show the suspect getting into the vehicle after leaving the store, but Linskey said that, based on the sequence of events, it is apparent that he got into the passenger’s seat. Other footage shows the car heading toward the Jamaicaway.

Dangol, 39, was a native of Nepal and had recently visited his homeland. He had started working at the convenience store just days before the shooting and, according to his friends, knew it to be a dangerous job. He had come to the area from Nepal about four years ago and was planning to bring his wife and young daughter here.

“He was fully aware of the situation,’’ said Uttam Shrestha, a friend. “He knew the job was very risky, because one of his friends was recently robbed and there have been six or seven Nepalese gunned down in the US recently, working as clerks. We knew that he cooperated fully, and that’s why we are very puzzled why he was gunned down.’’

Pashupati Chaudhary, who had been Dangol’s roommate since Nov. 16, said that he, Dangol, and other Nepalese immigrants would gather at their Somerville apartment. On at least one occasion, they discussed how to react to a robbery.

“Everybody agreed that if someone asked for money, the best thing was to let them take it and not argue,’’ Chaudhary said.

Tedeschi officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In Jamaica Plain, robberies have increased significantly this year, according to Boston police crime statistics. There were 170 robberies or attempted robberies through Dec. 20, compared with 124 during the same period last year.