Gas station owner who thought customer stole gasoline now faces attempted murder

Gas station owner who thought customer stole gasoline now faces attempted murder
Phillip Stewart is charged with attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle (Source: Limestone County Sheriff’s Office)

ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - An Athens gas station owner was arrested Sunday after chasing, ramming and shooting at a customer he thought was attempting to steal gasoline from his business.

Phillip Wayne Stewart, 64, is now charged with attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

Deputies responded to a call Sunday around 8:30 a.m. involving a vehicle pursuit with one driver chasing down another vehicle, ramming into it and firing shots at the vehicle. At the time of the call, both vehicles were reported to be eastbound on Highway 72 near West Washington Street.

The pursuit continued into city limits, when Athens Police officers said they found the victim in a black truck at the intersection of Highway 72 and Hine Street. The truck had damage to the rear and a bullet hole through the tailgate.

The victim told police that the driver of the other car had chased him from S&Z Grocery on Highway 72.

Deputies contacted Stewart at S&Z grocery, where they observed visible front-end damage to his Chevrolet Malibu. Stewart, who owns S&Z, told deputies he chased the victim because he believes the victim stole gas from his business.

Deputies also recovered a 9mm handgun at S&Z and a matching projectile from the victim’s tailgate. Stewart confessed to ramming and shooting at the vehicle.

Stewart was released from the Limestone County Jail Sunday on $60,000 bond. Investigators are still reviewing evidence to determine whether the victim was stealing gas from S&Z.

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