SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Authorities are searching for an armed robbery suspect after a gas station clerk was shot and killed in Smyrna early Tuesday morning.

Smyrna Police responded to the Twice Daily Shell gas station on Stonecrest Parkway at 3 a.m. in response to an attempted armed robbery. 

Officers said a male suspect entered the store, displayed a handgun and demanded money from the register. Police said that’s when the suspect shot the clerk and fled the store. 

A statement from Twice Daily’s parent company, Tri Star Energy, has confirmed the name of the employee who was killed. They said Nick Patterson was a nine-year team member.

Nicholas Patterson

Customers are remembering Patterson for his kindness. Brandy Greer said Patterson helped her and her husband while they were down on their luck and would even give them change if they didn’t have enough to pay for their items at checkout.

“They didn’t have to do what they did, at all, because he would’ve given them anything in that store, anything. He’s helped me before,” Greer said. “The gentleman and all the workers over there are absolutely amazing people. But to come in there and just take somebody’s life, I hope they get what they got coming to them, for real.”

Kenneth Murray said the shooting was a senseless act of violence and Patterson would have helped anyone in need.

“He took the life of a very, very generous man, a man that has a big heart. He took the life of a really, really nice man. I don’t understand why he would have to do that but he did. He has no idea what he’s done,” Murray said.

Customers hope police are able to quickly apprehend the suspect and get justice for Patterson’s family and his coworkers.

“A real nice guy, real nice guy. If you didn’t have the money or whatever, he would help you out because he’d feel sorry for you and he’d give you the shirt off his back to help you out,” customer John Curry said.

Twice Daily’s statement reads in full:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Nick Patterson, a nine-year team member who lost his life following an armed robbery at our store located at 500 Stonecrest Parkway in Smyrna, Tenn., on Aug. 30. Weare deeply saddened by this tragic and senseless crime.

We are cooperating with local authorities to provide information and support they need in their investigation.

The safety of employees is our highest priority. We take security measures in our stores and conduct safety training for managers and employees.

Our company chaplain is helping those affected through this situation as we seek to respond in a timely and compassionate manner. Our priority is to support the family and our employees during this difficult time.

The store is closed until further notice.

Steven R. Hostetter, CEO, Tri Star Energy

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Police described the suspect to be a black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jean pants, black shoes and a black hat. 

Anyone with information regarding the deadly shooting is asked to contact Detective Steve Hannah at 615-267-5146. 

No other information was immediately available. 

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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.