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Detroit — Four gunmen fired more than 50 rounds early Wednesday in an attempt to kill a man at a gas station but ended up hitting him just once in the ankle.

"I saw him outside, right out the window and I saw him walking toward the door," gas station attendant Omar Ahmed said of one of the shooters. "He's looking directly into my eyes."

Ahmed, 22, said he took cover behind bulletproof glass at the counter around 1 a.m. as the four masked gunmen shot up the BP gas station on the 1700 block of Fort Street on the city's southwest side. The suspects' apparent target was a 27-year-old regular customer known to Ahmed.

"They tried to kill him in the parking lot," he said. "Pretty straightforward."

The victim received a gunshot wound to the ankle and was undergoing surgery at a hospital earlier Wednesday, Officer Dan Robinson said. Investigators plan to interview him when he recovers from surgery.

Ahmed said at least one of the gunmen was armed with what appeared to be a black AK-47.

The customer was pumping gas when the suspects opened fire, police said. As the gunmen continued shooting, the victim ran inside the building to where Ahmed was hiding behind the counter.

"He was shot in the ankle," Ahmed said. "He was limping but he was maintaining himself very well. No fear in his eyes."

Ahmed said he was resting behind the counter during a 17-hour shift when gunfire first erupted outside the store, which is owned by his uncle.

"I got up, and right when I got up, a bullet hit the side of the building, like right next to me," he said. "We just automatically jumped to the floor."

Ahmed said he hid behind the counter with three other people while three customers took cover in the storage room. As they hid, the man who was shot limped into the gas station and urged Ahmed to let him behind the bulletproof glass.

"The last thing I wanted was for someone to get killed right in front of the door," Ahmed said. "If it wasn't a known face, I wouldn't have opened the door, but if I didn't open that thing, he would have gotten killed."

Police told Ahmed the suspects fired more than 50 rounds but it seemed like more, he said.

"It probably lasted a good five to 10 minutes, with these pauses (between rounds of gunshots) that would be like 30 seconds," he said. "But 30 seconds feels like an hour when something like this happens."

Ahmed said the pauses lulled those hiding into thinking it was over.

"We would stand up and look out or try to open the door, and it would just start going again," he said.

Customers told Ahmed the shooters followed the victim into the store.

"They walked through the aisles and just left," he said.

The suspects fled in a silver Impala or Grand Prix, Detroit Police Sgt. Cassandra Lewis said.

Ahmed said he does not know what prompted the shooting, but he called the victim a "respectful" man who wasn't known to cause trouble at the store.

"He's a nice guy," Ahmed said. "I've never had a problem with him."

No arrests have been made in the incident. Investigators plan to review surveillance video, police said.

Ahmed said the store has cameras, but he does not know if they were recording early Wednesday.

Several cars outside were hit by gunfire, Ahmed said, including his own vehicle. The bulletproof glass also now has several holes.

The store was in the process of being sold when the incident occurred, he said.

"(The sale) has been processing for over a month," Ahmed said. "Today was the last day, so I'm thinking it's going to be a nice slow day, and I'm just going to go home."

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier

Associated Press contributed.

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