Family speaks on arrest: slain clerk “didn’t let petty stuff bother him”

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By Jill Glavan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (July 17, 2014) -- Just 24 hours after police made an arrest in the early June killing of gas station clerk Harry Briggs, his brother spoke to Fox 59 about the case.

Briggs died days after he was shot in the head at point blank range by a suspect robbing the Joe's Junction at Troy and Lynhurst on June 4. Surveillance video caught that suspect skipping away from the store.

On Wednesday, IMPD's Violent Crime Unit, SWAT officers and US Marshals descended on a far east side home and arrested Desi Thomas, 22, for the crime.

"Emotions were very high," Briggs' brother Lonnie Plotner said.

Plotner and other family members have been following the case from Virginia, where Briggs grew up and was buried following his death.

"We’re extremely grateful for all the manpower and resources (IMPD) put forth for catching this individual and getting him off the street before it happens to another family," Plotner said.

IMPD detectives revealed Thursday that they received hundreds of tips from the community, leading them to look into as many as 70 potential suspects.

Thomas ultimately stuck out because he was staying just down the street in Troy Manor and multiple tipsters told police he'd bragged about the crime.

"(He) was bragging about getting $300 from the robbery and the reason he did it was to buy some marijuana, a new cell phone and shoes," court paperwork revealed.

Briggs' legacy, meanwhile, remained evident at the Joe's Junction, where his photo is still at the counter with co-workers.

"He had a huge heart. He never met an enemy ever. ... He just didn’t let petty stuff bother him," Plotner said.

That made the fact that Briggs' life ended over something so petty even tougher to handle, Plotner said. His family hoped that something good could come of Briggs' death and that store owners would focus more closely on keeping their employees safe, especially at night.

"They’re there away from their families in the middle of the night and the only thing we ask is that they be protected," Plotner said.

Thomas is due in court for his initial appearance Friday at 9 a.m. He faces two counts of murder and one of robbery.