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A store clerk is in surgery as of this report after being shot during an early morning armed robbery.

The clerk was shot once in an undisclosed part of the body and the injury is considered life-threatening, Roanoke Rapids police Chief Chuck Hasty said.

The robbery occurred at New Dixie Mart in the 100 block of Julian R. Allsbrook Highway around 12:45. The store is traditionally known as Presto.

Hasty said in a statement employees told officers the suspects entered the store armed with handguns and demanded money.

During the robbery one of the suspects jumped the counter while the other suspect ran to the back and went behind the counter.

The suspects demanded the clerks open the safe at which time the clerks advised they did not have access to the safe.

One of the suspects struck the employee in the head with a handgun. The suspects proceeded to take money and cigarettes.  

When the suspects were exiting the store, one returned back to the counter and shot the employee who had initially been struck in the head with the weapon.

The suspects then fled on foot down Hamilton Street towards Clinton Street where they fled in an unknown vehicle and in an unknown direction of travel.

The employee was transported by Halifax County EMS to Halifax Regional Medical Center and then transported to a trauma center for treatment of the injuries.

Weldon suspects

The suspects in the photos taken from the store's security cameras bear a resemblance to suspects wanted in an armed robbery in Weldon last week.

Hasty said Roanoke Rapids investigators are looking into that possibility and plan to follow up with Weldon police.

Both suspects are described as black males — both standing about 5-feet, 5-inches tall.

One is  wearing a gray sweatshirt and charcoal gray pants, white surgical mask around his face and blue rubber gloves. The other is wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and black pants, a red garment around his head and blue rubber gloves.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Captain Bobby Martin at 252-533-2820 or Crimestoppers at 252-583-4444.

These suspects are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Contact law enforcement to let them know the location.