Bullets flew Thursday night during a strong-armed robbery at a convenience store in south Bakersfield. A clerk was punched in the head, and investigators say the market's owner shot one of the robbers.
It was business as usual Friday at Union Market on South Union Avenue, just hours after two armed men wearing masks robbed the store Thursday night.
"A lot of people, they don't have any jobs. They try and take people's money for nothing," said a store clerk at the convenience store.
Sheriff's deputies say one of the robbers hit the clerk in the head with a gun. The owner was also inside. He pulled out a gun and shot the other robber in the head, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Deputies identified that suspect as 26-year-old Carl Bermudez, a parolee, who is now in custody at the downtown jail. The other man got away.
17 News spoke with a convenience store clerk who works at the Union Market. He wasn't there Thursday night, and he didn't want us to show his face.
"You think maybe something could happen again," said the clerk.
He told us that being a clerk can be a dangerous job.
"Everybody should have a gun to protect themselves. It's getting bad everywhere," he continued.
Armed robberies are up 58 percent this year in Kern County, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Strong-armed robberies, where a victim is attacked either by force or with fear, are up almost 30 percent.
Overall, robberies are up 44 percent in the county.
"I can tell you that a 44 percent increase is troubling from a law enforcement capacity," said Chief Deputy Kevin Zimmermann. "But, what I can say is we need to take that information, use it wisely, and develop strategies to deal with the situation the best way we know how."
But, for some convenience store clerks, that means fighting back.
"It is very scary. We have to protect ourselves, but the thing is how much can we do? Our hands are tied in the back," said Jasbir Riar, Owner, Super Express Mini Mart.
Jasbir Riar said he is in the process of getting a concealed weapons permit so he can protect himself at work.
"You shouldn't lose your life over a few dollars, but then they keep coming, easy targets," he continued.
Carl Bermudez has a lengthy criminal history dating back eight years. It includes arrests for driving under the influence, second degree robbery, auto theft, and burglary. He is due in court next week.