Atlanta police said a man pulled into the Texaco gas station in the 2000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive early Wednesday.
The man, who family members only identified by his nickname “Rambo,” was inside at the counter when he said he saw a white four-door sedan pull up, at which point three men jumped out and started to rob a man who was in the parking lot.
Rambo tried to help the 55-year-old victim and ended up getting in a shootout with the robbers, police said.
The victim was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery Wednesday afternoon. Doctors expect him to recover.
“Someone tried to take my son away from me,” the victim’s father said.
“All these other young fellas been getting their life taken away and God spared him,” the victim’s mother said.
Family members said Rambo is the father of five young girls. They said he has a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone, so when they learned he was trying to protect someone else when he was shot, they were not surprised.
Police released surveillance photos that show the suspected gunman.