OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE) - A Thorntons gas station employee injured during a robbery of the store in Oldham County last week has died, police confirmed to WAVE 3 News.
Detectives said Ralph Shain, 68, died at approximately 2 a.m. Thursday.
Police said two men went into the store in the 13000 block of U.S. Hwy 42, near the Oldham-Jefferson County line, on Nov. 28, and robbed the store of a case of cigarettes.
When the two suspects tried to get away from the parking lot in a van, they backed into a parked car and then hit Shain. Shain suffered injuries to his lower body. He was rushed to a hospital, where he battled for six days before he succumbed to his injuries.
Thorntons issued an updated statement Saturday:
"We are deeply saddened by Ralph’s passing and we’ve offered to assist the immediate family with their needs. Thorntons would like to thank all of our guests and community members for their outpouring of support for Ralph. We also encourage the community to come forward to the police with any information that could help lead to the arrests of the robbery suspects.
Please keep the Shain family in your thoughts and please respect the family’s request for privacy during this most difficult time."
Friends like John Wieland said Shain was a friendly man who loved to talk with customers and be helpful.
“Parents, teachers, kids were in there in the morning (and) evening; everybody saw him in there," Wieland said. “So many people knew him and just (gave) him a ‘Hey, Ralph, how’s it going?' You know, we were so looking forward to him coming back, and now this tragic turn. It’s just horrible for his whole family during the holidays that a stupid act of theft would lead to this.”
“I told him a long time ago he should run for mayor, because everyone knows him in this area,” customer Chris Meeker said.
Long-time customers would rather be called Thornton’s friend.
“There’s plenty of stores up and down 42 that I could stop and get the same products from, but I would purposely go here because I wanted to say hit to Ralph,” Greg Parker said.
Parker even said the soft-spoken and kind man was more like family. Parker describes him as one-of-a-kind and a person that genuinely cared to get to know others.
Meeker also remembers a selfless and hardworking man.
“I know he only had this job. He retired from one company. He only worked this job so he could get extra money to spend on his grandchildren,” Meeker said.
Despite health issues, Parker said Shain never wanted to burden anyone with how he was doing.
“He made the conversations about you more than him worrying about himself or you worrying about him,” Parker said.
Customers say they are still reeling after learning Shain passed away.
"I guess there’s a part of me that’s a little surprised, because of his age, that he would go ahead and put on the Superman suit and pursue them," Parker said. “In his mind, he did the right thing. That’s it. That’s it, and now he’s gone, and we’re not going to have him back. I don’t know how you fill those shoes again. It’s still just sinking in that I could go over there right now and I’m not going to see Ralph.”
Customers said the two men police are looking for stole so much more than a carton of cigarettes from the Prospect community.
Oldham County Police say they are interviewing some witnesses, but haven’t made any arrests. The charges are upgraded from theft to robbery against the two involved and more charges could come later.
Anyone who knows anything about the crime is asked to call police immediately.