Charles Rowan (Booking Photo, Aug. 2013)

Charles Rowan (Booking Photo, Aug. 2013)

ST. LOUIS, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A mixed-martial arts fighter who faked his own death to evade a drug dealer, then re-emerged to violently rob a Michigan gun shop, says he wishes he had actually passed away.

READ MORE: City Of Detroit Celebrates New Mixed-Use Development Project Named After Artist

Charles Rowan robbed a Gladwin gun shop in March, weeks after his girlfriend, Rosalinda Martinez, told family and friends that he had died in a car wreck while traveling to a cage match. He was sentenced in November to 17- to 40-years in prison for the robbery, which critically injured the shop’s owner.

“I think about it every day,” Rowan said about the robbery. “If I could do everything over again, I would… I wish I had died.”

Rowan’s comments came during an interview with The Detroit News from mid-Michigan’s St. Louis Correctional Facility.

His arrest stunned people in northern Michigan, especially mixed-martial arts promoters who had arranged cage matches for him and believed he was dead. They raised more than $1,000 to pay for his funeral, although one was never held.

“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever been involved with,” said John Yeubanks, a Gaylord fight promoter who held one of the benefits.

Rowan, 26, said last week in the prison interview with the News that he was surprised by how hard people had taken his apparent demise. Among the things that touched him were the thoughtful words spoken at his memorial, which he could hear because he was hiding upstairs.

READ MORE: Oakland County Hosting Free Counseling And Resource Events Following Tragedy At Oxford High School

“It was just weird. People cared for and loved me,” Rowan said.

The hoax began early last year when Rowan was attacked near his Gladwin home by two men with knives. He said they worked for a Saginaw drug dealer who had given him $60,000 worth of cocaine to sell. A friend was supposed to help sell it, but used the drugs instead, Rowan said.

When the drug dealer found out Rowan was alive and threatened to make his “death” real, Rowan and his girlfriend hatched a scheme to pay off the debt by robbing Guns N Stuff. Rowan burst into the store, striking owner, Dick Robinette with a hammer.

When officers responded to the gun shop after the robbery, they found Robinette, 75, lying on the floor with severe head injuries. Martinez, who served as Rowan’s accomplice, stayed behind to call 911. She told arriving officers that she was just an innocent bystander who was also attacked. Rowan, Martinez and a third person were later taken into custody.

Robinette, who was kept in a medically induced coma after the attack, said he continues to have trouble reading and struggles to find the right words to express himself. No longer able to work, he closed the gun shop and sold the inventory.

Robinette and his wife have exchanged letters with Rowan and sent him a Bible. Rowan said he can’t believe the couple forgave him.

MORE NEWS: AG Nessel Says Independent Investigation In Oxford Possible, Despite District's Denial

The fight promoters who previously held benefits for Rowan ended up throwing one for Robinette, raising $10,000 for his medical bills.