July 26, 2021 12:53

Masked robbers execute gas station clerk, after he emptied register for them

Ramon Antonio Vargas

The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

When two masked robbers stormed into a Kenner gasoline station early Monday, the 30-year-old clerk who was on duty did everything police say people should do to survive such a confrontation, according to investigators.

Abd El Ghader Sylla handed over the money from the cash register immediately when the robbers demanded it, police said. He did not ignore their commands nor try to fight them off.

Nonetheless, police said, one of the robbers still fatally shot Sylla, while the victim was on his knees holding his hands up, apparently pleading to be left alone.

“There was no resistance on the clerk’s part at all,” Kenner Police Chief Michael Glaser said Monday. “He did whatever they told him to do. There’s no way to explain why the clerk was shot. It just makes no sense.”

Lt. Michael Cunningham, who oversees Kenner’s detectives bureau, released Sylla’s name early Monday afternoon. Glaser said investigators were still working to identify suspects in the slaying, which was recorded by the store’s surveillance system.

According to police, the video shows two people in black cloth face masks enter the Shell station’s convenience store in the 3500 block of Williams Boulevard about 2:10 a.m. One of the intruders — wearing a white knit cap — approached the counter where Sylla was standing, pulled a handgun out and demanded cash.

The second intruder stood by the door as if keeping a look out, police said.

The video shows Sylla empty the register and hand the money over to the gunman. Sylla then got on his knees, holding his hands up, as the gunman walked behind the counter and fired at least one bullet into the clerk, police said, citing the video footage.

Glaser said the clerk called 911 for help as the robbers fled. First responders brought Sylla to a hospital, and he was pronounced dead there.

Cunningham said Sylla’s survivors include a wife and at least one daughter.

Glaser said Sylla’s slaying was a chilling example of someone following police’s recommendations to not resist a robbery — but nevertheless paying the ultimate price. “He obeyed every command, and they shot him anyway,” Glaser said.

Sylla was mortally wounded less than two blocks away from a 2016 robbery at a Raising Cane’s in which the restaurant’s 21-year-old manager, Taylor Friloux, was fatally stabbed.

Three people have since pleaded guilty to roles in Friloux’s killing, and one — a former employee at the restaurant — was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial last year.

Glaser said it was impossible not to draw parallels between Sylla and Friloux’s cases but cautioned that investigators did not yet know the full story behind Monday’s deadly robbery.

The store was back open later Monday morning. The only sign a deadly robbery had occurred there hours earlier was a small piece of crime scene tape that remained wrapped around a hand rail at the front of the building.

A supervisor at the store declined comment, and attempts to contact the owners weren’t immediately successful.

Cunningham asked the public to call in any information about Sylla’s fatal shooting either to Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111 or to Kenner police at (504) 712-2222. Crimestoppers tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

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