In February of 2003 my son and I were “victims” of an armed robbery. I put the word victims in quotes because I don’t really feel like a victim and neither does my son. We both feel pretty darned victorious. This is the next installment of the story of that robbery. The Armed Robbers Part 2.
Sometimes you have to stand up
When the gunman pointed the weapon at my chest I knew exactly what I had to do. I stepped forward until the gun was pressed against my chest and I uttered the word I’d repeat several times that night. “No.”
The shock in his eyes (the only visible part of his face) was instant and very apparent. I pressed myself a little harder against the gun to let him know that the threat of being shot wasn’t going to deter me. With absolute calm I said, “My baby is in there. I’m not telling them to open the door until you promise no one will be hurt.”
He pulled the gun back until it was about a foot from my body. “I promise.” he said quietly. I turned and took a step toward the door. The gunman put the gun to my temple and walked alongside me. I assumed the second robber was following.
The young lady working with my son saw us approaching the door. She immediately saw the gun pressed to my head and ran to open the door and then backed away. The three of us entered the station and my son saw the situation. I knew I’d have to handle things very carefully the moment I saw his face.
Sometimes you have to stand down
I stared at my son, willing him to read my mind. “Be calm.” I thought. “Follow my lead.” I could see Pete begin to assess the situation. I could almost hear him thinking, “Two guys. Both are smaller than me. The guy with the gun seems really nervous.” The robber with the gun, which was still pressed to my head, ordered them to open the safe. Both Pete and the young lady said they couldn’t open it, but that there was the money to open the store in the morning in the register; a total of $250.
By this time the gunman had moved the gun to my side. His hand was shaking and the gun kept hitting my ribs. I knew I’d have a bruise there the next day. Pete also noticed the gun. And I’m glad he did. He’d been putting the rolls of coins into plastic bags. He’d put three bags together and I could tell he was planning to use the heavy coins in that triple layer of plastic to hit the robber in the head. I knew if Pete hit the man, no matter how hard and no matter how quickly the man went down, I’d likely be shot.
Pete pointedly looked at the gun. The gunman didn’t even seem to notice. I knew Pete was letting me know he wasn’t going to do anything while the gun was held against my body. I was relieved because I didn’t want the gun to go off and also because we didn’t really know if the other robber was armed.
Apparently $250 was less than they’d hoped to get. The accomplice told us to give us all the money we had on us. “I don’t ever carry cash.” I stated. Following my lead the young lady said she never did either. And, although I knew Pete had nearly $100 in his wallet, he also said he had no money. Neither of the robbers asked to see our wallets. I looked at Pete while thinking, “We’re being robbed by the criminal version of the Keystone Cops!” Pete actually rolled his eyes!
I quietly asked the gunman if he’d agree to take me and leave Pete and the young lady if I used my ATM card to get them money. It was a calculated risk. I couldn’t remember the PIN for the card and they’d find out quickly. But I wanted to get them away from my son and the girl. But the gunman was too focused on everything else to hear me.
I hadn’t even noticed but the other robber had walked to the coolers and helped himself to a bottle of pop. How very casual of him. It was his attitude the entire time that made me recognize that he was the more dangerous of the two.
He strolled back and told my son to give him a carton of cigarettes. Pete complied, even asking what kind of cigarettes the thug wanted. And Pete was also casual and quite polite. It was as though he were waiting on a customer.
Sometimes you’re just unsure
Once the second man had his pop and carton of smokes I heard the words I was dreading. “Go into the office.” Pete told him the office was locked and workers didn’t have the key. “Then go into the back room.” The back room” I thought. “That’s where they herd you so they can shoot you in the back of the head.”
photo of Keystone Cops courtesy of Richard Hughes