Diamond store owner recovers from shooting - East Valley Tribune: News

Diamond store owner recovers from shooting

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Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 5:43 pm | Updated: 10:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Nancy Uptain and her family are looking forward to living a normal life during the holidays following a botched robbery attempt and shootout at her brother-in-law's Chandler business Saturday.

Robber dead; Chandler store owner shot in face

Christopher Diamonds, her brother-in-law's jewelry store, reopened Monday after two men stormed the establishment Saturday night and demanded precious stones and other expensive adornments.

Customers on Tuesday visited the Chandler diamond store, at the Loop 101 and Chandler Boulevard, for last-minute holiday gifts. Many were unaware of the earth-shaking experience that happened over the weekend, in which the owner was shot in the face by one of the robbers.

Uptain said of her brother-in-law, who suffered injuries that were not life-threatening: "We still don't know what his eyesight will be like."

Rusty Uptain was shot between the eye and nose during the attempted robberyand has since been released from the hospital.

During therobbery, one suspect sprayed Rusty Uptain's son, Chris, with pepper spray and chased him behind the store while the other removed his gun and demanded jewels from Rusty Uptain and his wife, Debbie, at 6:45 p.m., according to Chandler police Detective David Ramer.

After the robber brandished the firearm, Rusty grabbed his own gun and tackled the man and the two exchanged gunfire. Police identified the attacker as El Mirage resident Kevin William Murray.

Following the shootout, Murray, 46, was hit by Rusty Uptain's bullet but managed to drive away from the store in a stolen pickup truck while the other suspect, 27-year-old Kenneth Wayne Simpson Jr., ran away, Ramer said.

After a brief police chase, Murray passed out in the truck near the Loop 101 and Broadway Road, Ramer said. When the vehicle came to a stop, police discovered that Murray was unconscious and he was taken to a hospital where he later died. Police have not yet said where Murray was shot.

A police K-9 officer found the second suspect in a residential area near the same intersection at 8:15 p.m., Ramer said.

Simpson, of Phoenix, was booked into the Maricopa County Jail and faces charges of first-degree murder during a crime, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and having a firearm as a prohibited possessor. Under Arizona law, a suspect involved in a crime where a person is killed can be charged with the person's death, Ramer said.

Neither of the suspects escaped with jewelry, Ramer said.

Nancy Uptain said she hopes the business will be back to normal soon despite all the recent attention.

Before she returned to help customers with their holiday jewelry purchases, Nancy Uptain said, "Rusty is doing better" recovering at home.

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