CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Chattanooga Police were called to the Murphy USA gas station at the Brainerd Walmart Friday afternoon, when a clerk was shot.

Friends of the victim say they can't help but wonder if the suspect was staking the business out.

"We know both of them and he's really good friends with them," Stephanie Hand says. "I'm friends with one of them. It's a little bit of a shock."

Stephanie Hand and Justin Singleton drove to the Murphy gas station on Greenway View Drive,
when they heard someone had been shot.

They know both men who were working inside.

"They're probably frightened to death," Singleton says. "So are their loved ones."

Police say the employee, 33-year-old Leif Plunkett, was on his way to take a money drop to the bank, when a man dressed in dark clothing tried to rob him.

"Came out of the woods and confronted him with a gun," Assistant Chief of Uniform Services Randy Dunn says. "The manager ran, party fired a shot, struck the manager in the arm."

The suspect ran back into the woods empty handed.

"Officers were here within a minute or so of the call going out, so we are hopeful that he's still in the woods," Dunn says.

A dozen officers set up a perimeter, while a K-9 unit fought through record-breaking heat to search the woods.

But, the suspect was never found.

"They need to track him down," Singleton says.

Plunkett was able to provide a limited description.

His friends say the timing of the incident makes them wonder.

"The way people are these days, it almost sounds like he was staking them out and possibly may have known he was going to be doing that at the time," Hand says.

"That would be something to think about," Dunn says.

As investigators follow leads, Justin Singleton prepares for his first day as a Murphy USA employee. He's landed a job in Hixson, but says this shooting makes him a little uneasy.

"Makes me think, yeah, about a lot of things," he says.

The shooter's gun was not recovered. Witnesses were only able to provide a limited description of the suspect as well.

Plunkett, who was taken to Erlanger, is expected to make a full recovery.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates as they become available.