STILL WORKING:

Midway Texas store owner Farid Uddin visits with Sylvia Hernandez Monday at the register where he was held at gunpoint Jan. 19. Police are still hunting for the robber who fled on foot.

Last week’s robbery at an El Campo convenience store has the owner asking for community support as he debates whether to keep the business open.

The Jan. 19 gunpoint robbery is the second crime this month at Midway Texas, formerly Han-D-Pak Drive In, 1110 Palacios, according to owner Farid Uddin.

The crime, he said, is affecting his business.

Customer Robin Murray agreed it concerns him, but added the store is close to his home, the only one in the area. “I live in the neighborhood. It’s real convenient,” he said, picking up items Monday afternoon. “But I probably wouldn’t want to come late at night.”

Uddin has installed multiple cameras in the building and parking lot as well as enhanced lighting, but so far, the robber, described as a slim black man of medium height, possibly young, has eluded capture.

That’s a major concern, Murray said, as he sometimes walks his dogs in the area at night. Another customer said she and other women take evening strolls as well.

“It’s affecting my business,” Uddin said, adding evenings are often his busiest time.

The Jan. 19 crime took place at 7:55 p.m., shortly after the after-work crowd tapered off. Uddin was alone in the store.

“This was a planned robbery,” he said. “He had a gun so I didn’t resist. No one was injured.”

Murray said he looks to the police to keep his neighborhood safe. “What deters (criminals) is frequent police patrol,” he said, adding he’d like to see more officers, more patrol cars in his area. 

Uddin agreed.

“If you have a presence, you’ll stop that,” Murray said.

The robber fled on foot. Anyone who may have seen anything that night is urged to contact the El Campo Police Department at 979-543-5311 or the West Wharton County Crime Stoppers at 979-543-8477. Callers to the Crime Stoppers Tip Line do not have to give their names to qualify for a cash reward.

Originally from Pakistan, Uddin was a native of New York when he chose to relocate to El Campo. He purchased the former Han-D-Pak and reopened it as Midway Texas in June 2019, drawn to the area by real estate prices.

Uddin would like to do more development in the area. He has plans for a small motel and would like to develop a community center.

“The money I make I would like to spend for the community,” he said. “The young people, they don’t have any place to go, to sit and have a good time.”

Uddin’s first motel proposal was rejected by the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission, but he says he’s trying to figure out a way to make it work.

But first, he said, he has to determine if he can stay open.

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