Valley liquor store owners gather for protection

FRESNO, Calif.

Christopher Roberts faces charges for the murder of Kashmir Manes. Meanwhile, Valley liquor store owners are coming together to prevent future deaths.

More than 50 liquor store owners came out to a banquet hall in Northwest Fresno to talk about keeping themselves safe in light of the death of Kashmir Manes. They're treating his death as a wakeup call for store security.

Christopher Roberts hid behind his attorney as he faced the charges against him for the first time - charges that include the murder of Kashmir Manes.

"He wanted to enter a not guilty plea today and we did," said public defender Scott Baly, who was assigned to represent Roberts.

Investigators believe Roberts and Dwayne Dodson went into the Super-1 liquor store last week, intending to rob the place. But fellow liquor store owners say the robbers may have been surprised to find two employees at the store at 11 p.m.

"Once they saw another person coming from behind, then they got panicked and they just randomly, whatever they could think of, and then their actions," said Bob Bhaurla, who owns two liquor stores.

Liquor store owners met Wednesday to reinforce the ideas that have often kept them alive, even after armed robberies like the one that killed manes. They say the number one piece of advice to fellow owners and clerks is to never try and be a hero.

"Follow his orders, whatever he tells you," said Bhaurla. "The motive of the robber is usually the money, not taking anybody's life."

Friends say it's unlikely Manes was trying to be a hero - he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time with dangerous men. But now, his family needs a hero.

"If you take somebody's life, you're not just taking the person's life, you're also taking his family," said Kiranjeet Kaur, whose family business hosted the store owners' meeting. "His kids, they don't have a father. Somebody's missing a husband. It shouldn't be this way."

The liquor store owners who gathered Wednesday also took up a collection to help Manes' family pay for his funeral and to ease their financial burden as they deal with their heavy emotional burden.

Fresno police are still looking for the accused shooter, Dwayne Dodson. He was released from the jail for overcrowding back in December and there'd been a warrant out for his arrest since January.

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