Inside his neighborhood market, Mohamed S. Ahmed was screaming for help after a pair of armed robbers had left him bleeding.

Outside the northeast Minneapolis store, two men pounded on the window, trying to get back into the University Market after Ahmed managed to lock them out.

"They seemed really agitated, super agitated," said Matt Dosser, who was walking by about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. At first, "nothing made sense, then I saw the gun."

Dosser, who has a permit to carry a gun, reached for his own weapon.

One of the robbers "turned around and looked at me," Dosser recalled. "He stared at me. I had my weapon up. I didn't point the gun at the person. I had it at the ready, out of the holster.

"His buddy said something to him," Dosser continued, "and then he had this surprised look on his face, and they both ran to his vehicle and took off."

Dosser went into University Market, finding some of its contents overturned and Ahmed wounded and screaming on the phone to 911.

Ahmed had tried to fight off his attackers, Dosser said. "One tried to distract him, and the other whacked him with a pistol," Dosser said. "Somehow, he got them out of the store [and locked the door] and they were trying to get back in."

Dosser said Ahmed had the "back of his skull split open pretty good."

Dosser calmed the store owner and finished the emergency call for him, making sure to tell the dispatcher what he looked like so officers would not mistake him for one of the attackers.

On Wednesday, police spokesman John Elder called Dosser's actions "a noble thing. He acted honorably. Did this person possibly save [Ahmed's] life? Absolutely."

Police generally advise people to call 911 rather than try to stop a crime themselves, and on Wednesday, Elder also warned that having a permit to carry a gun doesn't let someone act as a police officer.

"The permit system is different, obviously, than having a police officer's license," Elder said. "When people get a permit to carry, they are instructed not to intercede into a crime that is occurring. It's solely for personal protection."

Dosser, 41, said he typically keeps his gun concealed, as permitted under a 2003 Minnesota law, "especially in the city."

"I am thankful they passed conceal and carry," Dosser said. "Police can't be everywhere."

He said he "came close" to using his gun about eight years ago while getting lunch for his tree-removal crew in north Minneapolis. Two men were stomping on another man, he said.

" 'I'll shoot you if you don't stop kicking that guy!' " he recalled yelling. The kicking stopped, he said.

Ahmed said that he hopes his video surveillance tape shows "a clear face of one of those guys" and that it leads to their arrests.

His head is still hurting nearly a full day later and with seven surgical staples in his wound, Ahmed said he has no second thoughts about trying to overpower an armed suspect.

"He could have shot me regardless," he said.

"I had a gun put to my face," he said Wednesday afternoon while back at the store, on 37th Avenue NE., to clean up the mess left by the attack. "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482