Gas station clerk going to trial in killing of customer

A 19-year-old Detroit gas station clerk will be tried in the shooting death of a 30-year-old man inside an eastside station last fall.

Mohamed Hizam was ordered Monday to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter and two counts of felony firearm by 36th District Court Judge Kenneth King. He's accused of shooting Joshua Lewis through plexiglass at the gas station in the 10070 block of Gratiot about 10:45 p.m. Oct. 12. 

Mohamed Hizam

We're running a new-subscriber special — Support local journalism and subscribe here.

Two Detroit police officers testified and a recording of Hizam's 911 call reporting the shooting was played during a preliminary examination before King.

Lewis was found shot to death inside the gas station with a hammer and broken glass near his body.

Hizam allegedly saw Lewis breaking the glass of a Coin Pusher game-of-chance machine with a hammer. According to authorities, the clerk picked up a rifle and fired one shot, striking Lewis, who died from a gunshot wound in the chest.

At the time of the shooting, Hizam was behind the plexiglass with an AK-47 and a large dog, according to authorities.

During the 911 call, Hizam is heard telling the dispatcher, "Oh My God. Oh My God ... Oh My God ... I had to f---- kill him."

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor William Lawrence said even if Lewis was smashing windows to get access to "loose change," that was not a justifiable reason to shoot him.

"He aimed his weapon and then shot the victim with it," Lawrence said. "You don't see the victim with a firearm. You don't see the victim with a knife. You don't see the victim ever come at the defendant." 

Hizam, who is out on bond, could not come to the courtroom for his preliminary examination because he had failed a smell test indicating he might have COVID-19. Instead,he sat in a vehicle listening to the testimony and 911 call, at times holding his hands to his face.

Hizam's co-counsel Jeffrey Edison asked that his client not be bound over for trial. He said the clerk's "state of mind" during the shooting should be taken into account, arguing that Hizam had a "reasonable and honest" belief that Lewis could come into his area.

 "In addition to the video, you have the testimony by way of the 911 call," he said. "(The shooting) was certainly not an intentional act to rise of the occasion of second-degree murder. Clearly his mind is clouded with the aggressive behavior of the decedent."

But King said while Lewis may have been "very hostile," he did not pose a threat to Hizam. The judge noted Hizam was behind the plexiglass and had a dog with him, as well as an AK-47.

"Did the defendant Mr. Hizam act reasonably in fear of his life even though Mr. Lewis didn't charge in that direction?," the judge said. 

Hizam is scheduled for an arraignment on information March 29 in Wayne County Circuit Court.