He didn’t wear a mask over his head. And he didn’t look young and anxious.
Instead, an elderly man walked calmly to the counter of the gas-station convenience store at 141 Willow St., showed the clerk a gun, then started clearing out the register, grabbing handfuls of dollar bills into his hands—all in full view of a video camera. Click on the play arrow to watch him in action.
Now police are looking for the man in order to land him a starring role in Act 2: as a defendant in court answering to armed robbery charges.
The heist occurred at Gerry’s Shell on Willow Street just before 10 p.m. last Thursday. (The video shows an incorrect time.)
It was like no other hold-up Gerry’s Shell has ever encountered—and that’s saying a lot, since hold-up artists have hit the joint over 100 times in 36 years.
For one thing, the robbers always walk in with gloves and masks, or at least they wear a hat and keep their heads down to avoid being recognizable on camera, according to station owner Gerry Katz (pictured).
This man walked in with no disguises or concealing attire. He held the door open for two customers leaving the store.
The staff recognized him; he’d shopped there before.
The man went to the end of the counter and paid for two Powerball tickets, Katz said.
Then he walked to the main cash register, lifted his shirt to reveal a gun to the clerk, then collected an undisclosed amount of bills. As he fled the store, he dropped some of those bills on the ground. No one was injured in the episode.
“I think if someone can come in without a mask, without gloves—I think it’s someone who wants to get caught, consciously or subconsciously,” Katz said.
Katz has grown used to robberies over the years, and taking measures to stop them or find the culprits. Last October he personally chased a robber and ripped off his shirt; the robber fled shirtless with his pants dropped until police caught up with him. Katz said he has seen robberies drop 90 percent in recent years after he started locking the door to the store at 10 p.m. and installed 24 video cameras. Customers have to be buzzed in to shop after 10 p.m.
The police don’t yet have a suspect in last Thursday’s heist, according to Sgt. Robert Lawlor Jr., head of the police department’s robbery and burglary unit. But they do have this clear video. Lawlor asked anyone who recognizes the man in the video or has any other relevant info to call his unit at 203-946-6304.