The hunt is on for a robber that started a gun battle in a St. Louis Grocery store.

Sone Maniphonh is one 63 year old you don't want to mess with.

When her business, and her husband were threatened by a gunman, she sprang into action to protect them and nearly paid with her life.

You don't stay in business for 25 years without protecting what's yours.

Photos:St. Louis area mug shots


And inside Asian World Market on Cherokee in South City, most people know better than to mess the boss behind this counter.

"She's real tough, she ain't gonna play with you," said Phillip Wade, a regular customer who's been shopping at the Asian World Market for five years.

On Jan. 4, Maniphonh had to prove it, while staring down the barrel of a gun held by this man.

"He walked in, and he wanted a 20 cent candy. I put right here, and he put gun on me. He point at me. After that he turn gun to my husband," said Maniphonh.

As Maniphonh watched her husband struggle with the robber she grabbed her own gun.

She never fired at the robber, fearful she would hit her own husband.

"I stand right here. He shoot one, two, three, four over there. I run follow him to go outside. I only try to protect myself, i don't know how to [be] scared," said Maniphonh.

Maniphonh says she's had that gun under her register for more than 20 years, but she's never had a reason to use it before.

"Sometimes I cry at home, I say, 'Why they have to do it with us. I don't make too much money'. Business is slow," said Maniphonh.

"They treat everyone great. Without them in the neighborhood, there'd be no store here," said Wade.

A matter of inches, and a flimsy piece of wood in front of the cash register saved her life. But this hardworking 63 year old says, even if she could go back, she wouldn't dream of backing down.

"I tell you the truth honey, I don't care. I have life insurance for my husband, that's OK. If i go, i go. I don't care," said Maniphonh.

Police say the suspect was wearing a green hooded sweatshirt and a multi-colored backpack. Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 866-371-TIPS.