Mourners gathered outside a McComb convenience store Friday night for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of a store clerk who was killed a week earlier during a dispute across town.
“That was my friend,” Quincy Landrews said of store owner Akshpreet “AK” Singh, who was shot and killed during a confrontation outside of the V.K. Quick Mart on Presley Boulevard around 10 p.m. Nov. 8.
Police say Singh got into a confrontation with Ronald Keith Cooper, 42, of McComb, threatened him with a broken beer bottle and then pulled a gun on him before Cooper disarmed Singh and killed him with Singh’s .357 magnum loaded with .38 special rounds.
Police Chief Damain Gatlin said it’s the department’s belief that Cooper acted in self-defense and no charges have been filed. District Attorney Dee Bates said the case will be presented to a grand jury, which will decide whether charges are appropriate.
Singh’s father, Bakhsis “KK” Singh, said he’s devastated by the loss of his son, and the refusal to not bring charges only adds to the pain.
Video widely circulated on social media appears to show Singh being shot after running away from an armed Cooper, who apparently pistol-whipped Sighn after the shooting.
“That’s overkill,” Bakhsis Singh said.
Police said that video, a cellphone recording of surveillance footage, misrepresents the entirety of the confrontation and doesn’t show all available camera angles.
Mourners at the vigil disagreed.
“How can you call it self-defense after you have shot somebody?” one woman asked while calling for a petition demanding charges. “Your life is no longer in danger after that person walks away.”
Bakhsis Singh said he owns two stores in McComb, Love’s Food Mart on Summit Street, where the vigil was held, and another store on Nelson Street in McComb’s Algiers neighborhood across town, not far from where the shooting occurred at V.K. Quick Mart.
He said the dispute between Cooper and his son began when Cooper entered the store on Nelson Street and threatened a cashier.
“That started from Nelson,” he said, playing footage of that confrontation on his cell phone. “That guy come into my store over there on Nelson. He was talking all crazy. That’s why the problem started.
“My son saw that, he make problem with my employees, that’s why he go mad.”
Singh said the employee was upset by the encounter with Cooper, who took his business to V.K. Quick Mart after reportedly complaining about the availability of cold beer at Singh’s store, and his son confronted him there.
“I’m trying to get justice,” his father said. “They want to protect the criminal.”
Singh said he believes his son, even though he was armed, had no intention of harming Cooper and was only trying to make a point to not mess with his employees.
“I know my blood never do wrong like that,” he said. “He young, may be mad, but he can control it. Plus, my son doesn’t want to kill him.”
Singh said he appreciated the turnout by loyal customers and Burglund residents at the vigil.
“He loved from his heart,” he said. “That’s why they’re coming.”
“AK was good,” Landrews said. “He was one of us. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”