Gunman robs Wilco Hess

Published 7:45 pm Friday, April 5, 2013

AHOSKIE – A lone suspect, armed with a handgun, assaulted two female employees and made off with an undetermined amount of cash from Wilco Hess (Memorial Drive and Catherine Creek Road) early Friday morning.

Neither employee was seriously injured during the pre-dawn heist, according to Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh.

Fitzhugh said the suspect – described only as a black male – allegedly approached the first employee to arrive at the store at around 4:15 a.m.

“That employee was opening the store for the day when she was approached by the suspect while still in the process of opening the door,” Fitzhugh stated. “He grabbed her by the hair and forced her to unlock the door, pushing her inside. He then asked about the whereabouts of the second employee and was told that the manager was scheduled to arrive soon.”

Fitzhugh said the suspect forced the first employee to lie down on the floor with him while they awaited the arrival of the manager.

“When the manager arrived, the suspect rushed her, grabbing her by the hair and forcing her down on the floor,” Fitzhugh stated. “Showing his handgun, he then forced both employees to the area of the store where the safe is located. The safe was opened by one of the employees, he took the cash and left the store, last seen walking away on foot.”

The chief said that neither employee was unable to get a good description of the suspect due to the fact that he would not allow the interior lights of the store to be cut on during the robbery.

Along with several officers with the Ahoskie Police, Hertford County EMS was summoned to the scene to check out the medical condition of the two employees. Both refused to be transported to the hospital.

Fitzhugh said a district manager with Wilco Hess was called to the store and he sent both employees home for the remainder of the day.

APD Lt. Detective Jeremy Roberts is handling the investigation. Those with any information about the robbery are encouraged to contact him at 252-332-5011.

While Fitzhugh said he was glad no one was hurt during the robbery, he did offer words of advice for local business owners and employees.

“I would encourage the owners of our businesses here in town to leave a light on inside their store and several on the exterior, especially those that traditionally open before the sun comes up,” he said. “Criminals often shy away from well-lit areas.

“I would also ask store employees when they arrive for work in the pre-dawn hours to drive their vehicle slowly around their place of employment and look for anything or anyone suspicious, to include a vehicle left there overnight. If they note something suspicious, do not leave your car. Use your cell phone or drive to our office and report it. We’ll gladly send an officer to check things out to ensure it’s safe for an employee to enter the place of business,” Fitzhugh concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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