What started off as an ordinary Saturday morning for three Dollar General employees quickly became a nightmare after a gunman approached them as they stood outside waiting for the store to open.
After ordering the employees to go inside the store on South Sweetwater Road in Lithia Springs, the unidentified suspect apparently had a change of heart and fled the scene, thanks to the actions of one brave store manager.
But 39-year-old Chris Salzer of Powder Springs doesn't consider himself a hero. Salzer maintains that he simply did what he thought was the right thing to do. He recalled Wednesday being approached by the gunman at about 7:05 a.m.
He and two other employees were taking a break before the store opened at 8 a.m. when the gunman approached from behind.
"(He) had his gun holstered and held on to it and basically said, 'Get inside. Get inside. Go inside. I ain't playing,'" Salzer said. "It was a pretty harrowing experience."
He described the gunman as being "very calm" while ordering them inside. The two employees he was with went inside. But he stopped just outside the door and addressed the gunman.
"I simply told him, 'You don't want to do this,' and I repeated that three times," Salzer said.
He admitted trying to look the man in his eyes, but the suspect was wearing sunglasses.
"I felt that l was going to try to make some connection and talk him out of doing something he would regret," Salzer said. "I didn't care about the money or the store assets. It was something that I just felt at the moment was the right thing to do, nothing to do with me personally or the store's money. I don't know if God was talking to me. I just thought it seemed like the right thing at the time to do."
Even though he couldn't see the gunman's eyes, he continued to try to connect with him.
"I was trying to make a connection to him and hopefully see if I could sense some sort of compassion from him," Salzer said. "Then he looked at me."
During the exchange, the automatic doors opened as the two stood in front of the door.
"He just kind of like took his gun and he said, 'I got you. I got you,' and he walked away," Salzer said. "He walked behind the building and I went inside and we waited for the police to arrive."
Days later, he still feels it was the right thing to do.
"Looking looking back at it, I would have done the same thing again," Salzer said.
Now the Douglas County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in catching the suspect. Salzer describes the suspect as being about 5-10, 175 pounds with an "relatively" athletic build. He believes the gunman is about 30 years old.
The store employees are still "very shaken up," according to Salzer.
"We're just trying to take it one day at a time," he said.
But Salzer says he is doing well since the incident.
"I have faith in God and I believe that I was out there for a reason," he said. "I firmly believe that and I'm thankful to be alive. I hope that this individual will change the path of his life to a better situation."
Salzer still can't believe he was held up at gunpoint especially since it happened in broad daylight as cars drove by.
"I think it was better to have been outside because if he had us inside, he could have done anything he wanted because we didn't open until 8," he said. "So I wasn't about to step inside and then be at his mercy. I'd rather be outside and left it in God's hand. Whatever happened outside, the police or someone would have driven by at least in two minutes so there is no way he could have robbed us. If I went inside, we would have definitely lost not only all the money and merchandise, but we could have been killed. I don't care about the money. I'm just happy no one was hurt."
Salzer recalled the conversation he had with God that night.
"I went home that night and said a prayer to the man up above," he said. "I was like, 'Thank you, sir, for letting me not meet you too soon."
Anyone with information on the suspect or the attempted robbery is asked to call the sheriff's office at 770-949-5656.