Gas station owner arrested for shooting beer thief, deputies say

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A business owner was arrested after shooting a man stealing beer from his store, deputies say.

The shooting occurred at the Shell gas station located at 125 Combee Road North in Lakeland on Tuesday night.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office reports that 43-year-old Rennie Defoe, Jr. entered the convenience store and grabbed three 18-packs of Natural Ice beer from the beer cooler. The total value for the packs of beer was about $36.

The sheriff’s office identified the shooter as 22-year-old Mehedeun Hasan of Lakeland, who is a co-owner alongside his 61-year-old father. Investigators said Hasan grabbed his handgun from the store office and exited the store to confront Defoe.

Defoe, who deputies say was recently released from prison, tossed the stolen beer inside his 2005 white Toyota Camry and entered the car, deputies say. Hasan pointed the gun at Defoe while he was in the driver’s seat with the door shut. At some point, he fired his gun as Defoe was reversing out of his parking spot, according to investigators.

Defoe drove away and crashed his vehicle at the intersection of East Main Street and Fish Hatchery Road in Lakeland, which is about less than a mile from the gas station. 

Deputies say Defoe was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center for gunshot wounds to his left arm and chest. They say he is listed in critical condition.

Hasan was arrested and faces charges including attempted murder. Deputies say he has no prior criminal history. 

Defoe's criminal history includes charge of robbery, domestic battery and drug possession.