Store clerk in Forsyth County speaks about escape from burning store after being tied up by robbers

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C.  -- A store clerk who was doused in fuel and locked in a building on fire still is dealing with the trauma nearly one year later.

He survived the violent robbery in Forsyth County on Oct. 20, 2018.

Now David Slater is talking about what got him through the terrifying moments and what’s been helping him recover this past year.

“Mixed emotions… it really hashes a lot of thoughts," Slater said. “I still have a few scars from the zip ties.”

He also says he has emotional scars after what happened last year at the Stop and Save store he worked at.

“It was worse in the beginning. You would see their faces and the fire and the flames," Slater said.

Forsyth County deputies say two men tied up Slater, robbed the store, poured fuel on him and then set the building on fire.

“As time has presided on, I don’t see the faces as much, but I still see the flames and the smoke," Slater said. "I don’t like to see the night come along because you know you have to go to bed.”

Slater says God gave him the strength to free himself from the zip ties before firefighters were able to get him out of the locked store.

Support from the community is also giving him the strength to move forward.

Slater plans to return to work when the store is rebuilt.

The building should be completed in a few months and will have added security features like an additional exit.

“We have worked in gas stations a long time and we have never imagined this kind of incident ever happening," said Raj Singh, the store's owner.

Singh hopes the pending trial will reveal why these two men committed the crime.

“I forgive them and I hope they sleep well because I don’t. but like I said we are conquering that every day," Slater said. "I’m here. Raj is here. Our crew is coming back. Stop and Save is coming back stronger than ever. You didn’t stop us, bud.”

Slater is not only getting through this, he previously fought and beat cancer.

The robbery and fire happened on his first day back at work.

David Curtis Smith, 58, of Yadkinville, and Cody Lee Long, 25, of Ozark, Alabama, were both charged with attempted first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree kidnapping, burning certain buildings and larceny of a motor vehicle.

David Curtis Smith and Cody Lee Long

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