Hasib Kuric, a homeless immigrant from Bosnia, has a deal with the owner of the Exxon station on South State Road 7: Kuric can sleep in a U-Haul truck out back if he keeps watch over the place.
Just before midnight Monday, Kuric tried to do his part and alert the clerk about a pair of masked men he saw outside the store of the Hollywood gas station. But before he could tell the clerk to watch out, one of the would-be robbers began shooting at Kuric in the aisles of the store — and the clerk was firing back from behind the counter with his own gun.
The gunman was killed, shot in the face by clerk Leonard Carr. Kuric, miraculously, was unhurt.
“He saved my life,” Kuric said Tuesday as he sat under a tree near the store, still trying to absorb what happened the night before. “We are brothers now. We were reborn on the same day.”
Carr, 45, of Miami, said he was “too shook up” to talk about the incident Tuesday.
By late Tuesday, police had not released the name of the gunman who was killed. The other suspect, 19-year-old Joshua Stuart of Hollywood, was arrested a couple of blocks away from the station. He has been charged with armed burglary, attempted murder, and second-degree murder — for the death of his accomplice.
“There were a lot of rounds shot,” said Sgt. Pablo Vanegas of the Hollywood Police Department. “The clerk was a real cool cat.”
Kuric, 46, said he first noticed the two attackers when he was piling up branches by the side of the store. He asked what they were doing, and one man said he had to use the bathroom in the store. Suspicious, Kuric went into the store to try to warn Carr.
“I said ‘Lock the door, call the police, I think you are about to get robbed,’” Kuric recalled Tuesday afternoon.
But as Kuric entered the store, the two attackers followed right behind him. And then one of them started shooting at Kuric amid the soda and water bottles on the store shelves.
“He said ‘You will never be able to do that again,’” Kuric said — a reference, he believes, to his attempt to warn the clerk. “He shot at me three times. He was going to kill me.”
As he told his story Tuesday, Carmelo Miranda, a neighbor, came over to shake Kuric’s hand.
“Good job, my man,” Miranda said. “I am glad that none of the good guys were hurt.”
Store owner Bhagwandath Ramnarine said he has invested in security cameras and special automatically locking doors that must be opened by the clerk, but nothing is enough.
“We try to make it difficult,” Ramnarine said, saying he’s lucky he had an extra set of eyes on the store. “He’s a good watch.”