The owner of the Guns and Ammo Gunsmith store in North Augusta, S.C. thought he was going to die tragically. Three men had driven a van into his store, executing what they hoped would be a quick "smash-and-grab" robbery.
Instead, they met owner Stephen Bayezes, who opened fire on the three intruders after the commotion set off an alarm, hitting each one at least once. He says he is not proud of what he was forced to do, but added sometimes "you've got to." The incident occurred on Aug. 9, but the owner says a set of tire marks on the store's floor and an unfinished wall are daily reminders of the night that he almost lost his life.
"It's a haunting thought. It literally is a haunting thought when you see the tire tracks, you hear the tires," Bayezes told WRDW-TV. "Everybody assures you that you just did what you had to do to protect your family. They say it'll heal over time, but when does time go away? It's something that nobody ever wants to do."
But he says he had no choice after he heard one of the robbers shout, "Shoot the mother f**ker!," followed by the sound of a gun cocking. "I mean, they would've shot me. In my mind, with no reservation. If that firearm had been loaded, I might've been a statistic."
With his fight-or-flight reflexes in full gear, Bayezes started shooting, striking all three men, killing one while the surviving two escaped. WRDW does not reveal the exact type of firearm the store owner used.
So, what happened to the two suspects? WRDW explains:
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says Eddie Stewart and Franklin Robinson will be charged with burglary 1st, grand larceny and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Both suspects are still in the hospital and will be taken into custody once they are released.
The Aiken County coroner says the third suspect, 20-year-old K'Raven Goodwin of Eastover, S.C., died from multiple gunshot wounds on Thursday morning.
The whole altercation took but one minute, he said. The burglars escaped with roughly 50 guns that night, however all of them have been returned safely.
Here are some photos from the scene via WRDW:
"Is this something you ever wanna do in your life?" he asked. "No. Something you have to do? If you're forced to it, you've got to."
And even though he bested the would-be robbers, Bayezes still has nightmares about the horrifying incident.
"Two nights ago I thought I was getting shot by one of these perpetrators," he explained. "Woke up in a cold sweat. I mean I seen the bullet come out of the gun and shoot me. It's a nightmare."
To make sure he is always prepared for future burglary attempts, Bayezes said he has improved his security system -- and we already know he has plenty of guns at Guns and Ammo Gunsmith.
"We're trying to protect everything again to try and stop this," he said. "We've enhanced security more, added more cameras, everything else you can do to the place. I mean, it's a fortress. How much more do you have to do to it to protect your livelihood?"