GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Friends, family, and community members are coming together to remember Patricia Grant.
A vigil is planned for Friday night at the Speedway gas station where she was killed while working one week ago.
The man accused of killing her made his first court appearance on Thursday. Avion Bell, 19, is charged with first-degree murder, among several other charges.
Bell’s hearing revealed more about his criminal past. He was just released from custody in late April after serving two years for six counts of common law robbery and assaulting a school employee.
“If he had to stay in jail, I don’t think this would have happened,” Crystal Austin said.
Austin was one of Bell’s victims in 2019. He pointed a gun at her as she was leaving work. When he started making demands Austin reached into her purse and pulled out her own gun and Bell ran off.
“I thought, OK I don’t want to kill this young man, he still he’s just a kid, I could see he was just a kid but at this point, it looks like maybe I could have saved somebody else’s life if I had have,” she said.
Authorities say Bell was on probation when he tried to rob the store with a stolen gun. A customer in the bathroom heard Grant say no, followed by gunfire and then Grant asking for help.
Bell then allegedly ran home and stashed the gun and a stolen cellphone in a ditch.
Police arrested him Wednesday at a hotel in Greensboro.
Family and friends of Bell’s victims hope he’ll never get the chance to hurt anyone again.
“It can’t bring Pat back but he’s not going to be able to hurt anyone else and I’m going to be following this very closely to make sure he is never released,” said Rhonda Pedraza, Grant’s friend.