LENOIR COUNTY -

Investigators said a gunman shot at a clerk during a store robbery in Lenoir County. Deputies are now offering a $1,000 reward to catch the suspects.

According to the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office, two unidentified black males entered the North Lenoir Community Mart, located at 2823 Institute Rd. near La Grange, at about 7:30 p.m. Monday. The suspects were armed with a hand gun, deputies said.

The robbers then ordered the store owner to give money, said investigators. One of the suspects held the clerk at gunpoint while the other took cash, cigarettes and other items, the Sheriff's Office stated.

The store owner pleaded with the robbers to just take the money, but the suspects ordered the clerk to get down in the corner, deputies said. The victim then distracted the robbers and escaped out the rear door of the business.

One of the robbers fired a shot at the store owner, but missed, according to investigators. The victim was not injured.

Deputies said the two robbers were able to escape from the scene in a car parked near the store.

Investigators believe the two men who robbed the store also tried to rob a driver 45 minutes prior. The suspects, armed with handguns, approached the driver at the intersection of Banks School Road and Falling Creek Road as the victim was stopped at a stop sign, deputies said.

The victim said the robbers ordered him to give up his money. But the victim was able to drive away, and was not robbed or injured, said investigators.

The victim reported that the suspects were in a dark-colored vehicle, according to deputies.

Because of the crimes, Lenoir County Sheriff Chris Hill is offering the following suggestions:

· If someone begins to approach your vehicle when you are stopped in the road or in a parking lot, drive off in a safe manner to assure you do not injure someone else.  Keep your car doors locked at all times.  
· When going into or out of a store, avoid parking in dark areas.  
· If you are confronted by a robber, do not hesitate to give up your personal belongings.  These things are not worth getting hurt over.

Sheriff Hill said he is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrests of the suspects. The Sheriff's Office can be reached at 252-559-6100.