In Wilmington’s Browntown section he was known as “Mr. Norman.” Because he owned Johnny’s Food Market, some also called him “Johnny.” Now he is dead, the victim of a shooting during a robbery that has hit the community hard.
Norman Alhout had owned the store for about ten years, according to neighborhood residents who posted signs of remembrance and lit candles in his memory outside of the market Wednesday morning.
“He was a kind, gentle person, just a family man,” said Shawna Askew. “If you didn’t have enough money for your food, and you had just enough to get something and wanted something else he would tell you ‘don’t worry about it’ and give you credit.”
“He was a caring person giving back to his community. It’s senseless he had to go this way.”
“This incident kind of sends a chill up your spine,” said Wilmington City Council member Kevin Kelley, who represents the area. “Here’s a person who comes to America, fulfills the American dream and wants to work, provide an honest living for his family and a service for neighbors – and is shot and killed.”
Another neighbor recalled how Alhout welcomed children into the store and never complained when babies grabbed items from the shelves.
Wilmington Police say Alhout was working at the cash register Tuesday at about 6:53 p.m. when two male suspects entered the store and attempted a robbery. The store owner was shot in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene. The search for the two suspects continues.
“The real big picture here is we continue to have violence centered around a gun,” Kelley said. “We need to put all the effort we can politically and community-wise into enhancing the gun laws to make it really difficult for people to have handguns.
A prayer vigil and march will begin Thursday at 6:00 p.m. outside of Johnny’s Food Market at 1200 Maryland Avenue. The program is being organized by Peace Keepers, a group of men from a variety of denominations who are trying to promote peace in the city and its neighborhoods.
Anyone who can assist in the investigation is asked to call Wilmington Police at 302-576-3628, Delaware Crime Stoppers at 800-TIP-3333, or can submit information online at www.tipsubmit.com.