Clerk foils armed robbery

Published 9:29 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

LEWISTON-WOODVILLE – Quick thinking by a convenience store clerk prevented a robbery – or, at worst, injury or death – here Saturday night.

Lewiston-Woodville Police Chief B. Winston Panton reported an attempted armed robbery of the Speed Mart (the old Red Apple in front of Town Hall). Three suspects were involved.

“The cashier said she was outside the store, sweeping the area adjacent to the ice box at around 10:15 pm,” Chief Panton said. “At that time, she was approached by a black male who produced a handgun. He pointed the weapon at her and said, ‘give it up’.”

Chief Panton said the clerk then stated the gun-toting suspect briefly turned his attention away from her at which time he looked at the other two suspects and made the statement, “come on, let’s get in the store.”

“The clerk used this to her advantage,” Chief Panton said. “When the first suspect turned away from her to address the other two, she ran inside the store, locking the door behind her, and immediately called 9-1-1.”

That call alerted the Lewiston-Woodville Police Department and the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office. Both agencies, along with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, responded to the scene.

“We covered the area pretty good, but found no suspects matching the description given to us by the store clerk,” Panton stated.

He added that according to the clerk, the suspects left on foot, running towards the rear of the store.

“Later, another witness informed us they saw a vehicle parked near the back of the store and that vehicle sped away,” Panton reported.

There was no description of the make and model of that vehicle, Panton said.

The clerk was able to describe two of the three suspects, all black males. The one with the handgun was noted wearing blue jeans, black shirt and had a black ski mask covering his face. He was approximately 5’-5” in height and weighed 140-150 pounds. The second suspect was approximately 5’-6” and weighed 130-140 pounds. He was seen wearing a white jacket and dark colored pants. He wore a white ski mask.

“The clerk said the third suspect was standing too far away from her to note any type of clothing or personal features,” Panton said.

Other than being frightened and emotionally distraught about the robbery attempt, Panton said the clerk was not injured.

“It was heads-up on her part to dash inside the store, secure the door and immediately contact the police,” Panton noted. “She used the window of opportunity provided when the suspect turned to his partners in crime and made her dash to safety.”

Panton added, “This just shows you the mentality of today’s crooks. It means nothing to have the PD (Police Department) right across the street…they don’t want to work…they just want the cash.”

Chief Panton asked if anyone in the area of the convenience store saw or heard anything on Saturday around 10:15 p.m. to please call the Lewiston-Woodville Police Department (252-348-2499) or the Bertie Sheriff’s Office (252-794-5330).

“We don’t need your name, just your information,” he said.

He thanked the Bertie Sheriff’s Office and the NC Highway Patrol for their assistance.