UPDATE: Company responds to Vietnam veteran attacked incident

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW) - Bennett Distribution Services in Augusta is responding to the recent incident caught on camera in Grovetown.

The man accused of hitting a Vietnam veteran at the Columbia County convenience store was working for Bennett Distribution Services at the time of the incident.

The company sent News 12 the following statement:

"The actions of the driver involved in the recent altercation at a gas
station in Grovetown, Georgia are not in line with the Bennett's values, and furthermore are in direct violation of the company's zero tolerance of violence policy. After becoming aware of the incident, the company has taken swift and appropriate action in the matter. Company officials have reached out to those involved to express its deep regret."

The man seen on tape hitting 77-year-old Jacob Cooter is supposedly 42-year-old Eric Rolland. After seeing this surveillance video on News 12 last night, Rolland turned himself in Tuesday.

Monday, June 30, 2014

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW) - A Vietnam Veteran was attacked at a Columbia County convenience store Monday. He said he was in line to buy water after a run, but investigators say another customer was way out of line when he punched him.

After fighting for our county for 21 years, Jacob Cooter, 77, said he knows a thing or two about a fair fight.

"For the man to sucker punch me, he's kind of a coward," Cooter said.

Cooter was buying water on Monday morning at the TPS gas station on Lewiston Road in Grovetwon when another customer attacked him.

"Because he didn't want to have to carry the 24 pack, he set it on the counter at the second register," store manager Melissa Johnston said. "After that, the second customer, the attacker, came up."

The two customers exchanged words, then the attacker came behind the older man and hit him in the back of the head.

"The man was maybe a foot taller than me and a 100 pounds more," Cooter said. "He had no business hitting an old fella."

Cooter grabbed his water and ran out, while the attacker left in his 18-wheeler. Cooter said the blow to the head knocked him out for a second and sent him to the hospital. Doctors told him he was fine, but he tells News 12 he still wants to press charges.

TPS store manager Melissa Johnston is hoping for that too.

"If he's the type that would assault an elderly man about who should have been rung up at the cash register, it needs to be on record," Johnston said. "What else would he be capable of?"

Columbia County deputies are using this video to try to catch the attacker. They said that once they track down the attacker's truck, they'll have a better chance of finding him and charging him with disorderly conduct.

"He knows who I am. He comes in everyday, and he knows I'm the one that came outside to get the name off the truck and the tag number," Johnston said. "So, I am worried about him coming back because he may be upset."

Columbia County deputies said they still don't know who the attacker is, but they say they're getting close and hope to catch him soon.

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