It didn't have to play out this way, but this is Philadelphia and, unfortunately, it did.

Two men stormed into a North Philadelphia grocery store looking for free money early yesterday. When the clerk behind the register - Egyptian immigrant Mustafa Shaker, 50, a husband and father of two - refused to give them money, one of them shot him with a sawed-off shotgun. Shaker was pronounced dead at the scene. Another store clerk was uninjured.

"It was a senseless, vicious killing," Homicide Unit Capt. James Clark said at a news conference yesterday afternoon. "You have these thugs who come in, they don't get a dime from him, and they still shoot him. It's senseless."

Shaker had been working the midnight-to-8 shift for the past eight months at Trax Foods, on Front Street near Girard Avenue, Clark said. Police released video of the robbery and asked the public for assistance in catching the killers. If anyone has any information about the case, call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334 or -3335.

The triggerman was described as a medium-complexioned black male, about 5 feet 8, with a mustache and a possible goatee. He was believed to be in his 20s, wearing a gray, zipped-up hooded sweatshirt and a black baseball cap with "Armani" on it.

The other man was described as black, in his early 20s, about 5 feet 9, and wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt with the Nike symbol across the chest. He had a watch with a red or pink band on his left wrist.