A large group of mourners attended a candlelight vigil last night in Humboldt outside the convenience store where a clerk was robbed, shot and killed on Monday night. A teenage suspect is charged in that murder and the killing of a second store clerk in Algona the same night.
Dawn Carlson, president of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, calls the crimes “horrific.” “By everything we’ve been able to surmise from law enforcement and the video surveillance at these stores, these employees did everything correctly, by the book,” Carlson says.
“These were just senseless random acts of violence that no one could have prevented. These women should be commended for the job that they did. They didn’t confront. It’s just a senseless act.”
The gunman demanded money and cigarettes. The clerks complied and then were fatally shot. Carlson says the murders are causing deep concerns for operators of these stores all across Iowa. “The convenience store industry is a tight family and these are small businesses that everyone knows each other and oftentimes knows each other’s families,” Carlson says. “It’s a terrible crime and terrible suffering to go on everyone that works in the industry.”
She says she’s been in close contact with the owners of both stores. “We have been working with the convenience stores to insure that their employees are all getting counseling,” Carlson says. “Everyone’s affected and we certainly want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to work through the grief process.”
The clerk killed in Algona is identified as 47-year-old Vicky Bowman-Hall, a mother of 11, while the clerk in Humboldt was 61-year-old Sheila Myers. The suspect is identified as 17-year-old Michael Swanson of Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. Swanson is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and he’ll face two separate trials as the crimes were committed in different jurisdictions.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City