A manhunt is underway to find the suspect accused of murdering a Family Dollar manager during a robbery.
Tampa police say they're searching for 23-year -ld Demetrius Parks in connection with the crime. They're also offering a $16,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to his arrest.
Parks is no stranger to law enforcement: he's been arrested 62 times and was just released from prison in March of 2012. Police say his latest charge is the most chilling.
Investigators say he stormed the Family Dollar store on North 40th Street Sunday morning.
"He pulled a gun on the clerk, demanded money. When the manager heard what was going on, he came out to try and rescue the clerk," Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said Wednesday.
Forty-nine year old Horsley Shorter's attempt to help ended up costing him his own life. Police say Parks shot and killed him in the middle of the store.
Shorter, who everyone called "JR", was raised in Tampa and graduated from Tampa Bay Technical High School. He was a 26-year military veteran and had just retired and moved back to town to take care of his elderly mother.
He was a friend to many Tampa police officers and firefighters who called him a pillar of his East Tampa community.
"He was just trying to make sure one of his coworkers didn't get hurt. It was a senseless act," said Shorter's friend, Tampa Fire Captain Lonnie Benniefield.
Now, Tampa police and U.S. Marshals are searching for their suspect. They say Demetrius Parks' family isn't cooperating with the investigation.
They're now turning to the public for tips.
"All indications are he's still in the area, but he knows we're after him," Castor said.
Meanwhile, the Family Dollar store has added full-time security. Employees say they're hanging on to hope that their friend's accused killer is caught.
"Just let the justice process go take it's course. I hope he gets his time because he killed a very, very good guy," Family Dollar Assistant Manager Juawanda Huggins said Wednesday.
Parks is considered armed and dangerous. Police ask anyone that spots him to keep a safe distance and call 911.
Anyone with information can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or text "CSTB plus your tip" to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637).
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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