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Pistol drawn in fight at gas station

A deputy's timely appearance at a QT station kept a pistol whipping fight from escalating into a more critical incident on Sunday afternoon.

The incident resulted in two men being arrested.

Joshua Rapheal Murray, 23, of Conyers was charged with affray, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the attempt to commit felonies, criminal use of an article with an altered ID mark, and crossing the state/county guard lines with drugs without consent.

The man he was fighting, Royce Whitlow, 30, of Conyers, was charged with affray and found to be wanted in Rockdale County for prior charges of terroristic threats and acts.

A Rockdale County Sheriff's Office deputy who happened to be at the QT station on Ga. Highway 138 North was notified by a customer around 3:30 p.m. that two black men were fighting on the side of the store.

"Once I got closer to the two males, I observed that one of the subjects (Joshua Murray) had a pistol in his right hand and was swinging the weapon, hitting the other subject (Royce Whitlow) in the face," wrote the responding officer in a RCSO report.

The deputy drew his weapon and ordered Murray to drop the pistol, which he did.

"I then ordered both subjects to lay on the ground and keep their hands where I could see them," wrote the deputy. The men were held at gunpoint until backup units arrived.

The gun, a Hi Point 9 mm, turned out to have one bullet in the chamber and the serial number was scratched out.

The suspects and the witnesses gave conflicting accounts of what occurred.

Whitlow said Murray yelled at him from a parked car and hit him first and then pulled out a gun. Murray told deputies he was jumped by Whitlow and his friend and had knocked the gun out of Whitlow’s hand and picked it up.

A witness said he saw Murray hit Whitlow first, but then the fight moved out of view.

One witness, who identified himself as Whitlow’s friend, said Murray was in a parked car and began yelling at Whitlow. The witness said Murray got out of the car and began hitting Whitlow and then pulled out the gun.

Another witness said Murray came out of the vehicle and "snatched $90 cash out of his hand while he was walking into the store." Murray then reportedly turned to hit Whitlow, who hit him back, and then reportedly took out the pistol and began hitting Whitlow with it.

Another witness told deputies Whitlow had the pistol; she reportedly heard Murray yell, "I ain't scared you got a pistol" and then saw him throw down the gun.

Murray received additional charges when deputies at the jail "conducted a strip search and located a baggie of marijuana hidden in Mr. Murray's buttocks," according to the RCSO report.

Whitlow was also booked into the Rockdale County jail after being taken to Rockdale Medical Center and released.