LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – A Long Beach 7-Eleven clerk said he was robbed at gunpoint by the man who is now being charged in the deaths of two men.
Rhett McKenzie Nelson, 30, appeared in court Thursday facing multiple charges in a Los Angeles-area crime spree in which he is accused of slaying two men, including an off-duty L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy, and committing two robberies.
7-Eleven clerk Jose Salem told CBSLA reporter Cristy Fajardo how Nelson robbed him at gunpoint and confessed to killing two men earlier that day.
“This is the guy who robbed me, the guy who pointed a gun at me,” Salem recalled his reaction to seeing images of the suspected killer.
Salem says Nelson confessed to killing the men when he held up the store on Monday night.
“He said, ‘I just killed two people right now, don’t act stupid.'”
Salem was working behind the register and said there were two other customers in the store when Nelson walked in.
“Suddenly he pulled a gun and when he pulled a gun I – boom – close the register,” said Salem.
Salem said he was shocked to later learn the murder confession was apparently not a joke.
Detectives say just hours before the robbery, Nelson shot and killed off-duty sheriff’s deputy Joe Solano who was in line at Jack in the Box in Alhambra.
Deputies say Nelson also left another family in agony after he shot and killed 30-year-old Dmitry Kolstov in downtown L.A.
Nelson allegedly fired at and missed another person in a nearby neighborhood before taking his crime spree to Long Beach.
He robbed a nearby shell station before he entered the 7-Eleven.
Salem said he now realizes just how much danger he was in.
Deputies believe Salem came face-to-face with a double murderer who was reported to have a drug problem and had been hearing voices.
“I was lucky he didn’t pull the trigger,” said Salem.
Nelson was said to have told his family in Utah that he was going to make it on his own or he was going to die trying.