Publix at Palm Coast’s Town Center Is Target of an Armed Robbery Wednesday Evening
FlaglerLive | January 22, 2015
The Publix store at Palm Coast’s Town Center was robbed late Wednesday evening, close to closing time, by a man claiming to be dying of AIDS and feared to be armed. No one was injured, but the robber got away and has not been located.
A 24-year-old employee and Palm Coast resident was working one of the cash registers after 9 p.m. when a man in his mid-20s, thin and about 5’7”, approached her and, speaking mostly incoherently, said something about dying of his disease before sliding a note written on a yellow Dollar General grocery bag to her and said: “Don’t do anything stupid. Give me everything you have in the drawer.”
The employee complied, removing all the cash from the drawer and, again complying with the robber’s demands, she removed the cash drawer so he could “make sure that she gave him all the cash,” according to the incident report.
Publix employees are trained to face such situations and told to comply with a robber’s demands by giving whatever the robber asks for and slowly back away from the register, refraining from making any moves or saying anything. They are trained specifically not to try to be a hero.
The cashier told police that the man “had his hand in his jacket pocket and had what she believed to be an object in his pocket consistence with being a handgun.” The cashier said “she believes the item was a firearm and not an implied firearm by using his finger, because of the shape and roundness of the tip of the object in his pocket,” according to the report.
The suspect wore a gray hoodie sweatshirt with a caramel colored leather jacket over the hoodie. He wore dark glasses and may have been wearing gray sweat pants, according to the cashier who, because of the glasses, could not identify his eye color. The cashier believes the suspect is either white or Hispanic and had “a Spanish accent,” the report states.
A 38-year-old witness who lives in the nearby E Section of Palm Coast told police that he saw the suspect walking “briskly” out of the store. After realizing what had happened, the witness tried to get a vehicle description or a tag number but failed, noticing only that the suspect had fled in a gray sedan that may have been a Hyundai, leaving out of the south exit of the shopping center to head north on Belle Terre Parkway.
Caryn Pryor, the long-time manager at the store, provided deputies with surveillance video footage. The robbery took place shortly before the store usually closes at 10 p.m. on weeknights.
“We’re just grateful nobody was hurt and it was the end of the night, no nobody was here,” Pryor said.
Shoplifting aside, criminal acts such as robberies are rare at Publix stores. The last reported incident in Palm Coast dates back to September 2013 when a 34-year-old man attempted to rob a woman in mid-afternoon at the same store. The woman refused to give him money, and after the man tried to take her wallet he was arrested and jailed. The case, against Richard Knoblaugh–he faced a second-degree felony–was dropped on “no information” from the State Attorney’s office.
Anyone with information about Wednesday’s robbery is asked to contact Detective Gabe Fuentes at 386-586-4890 regarding case 2015-8283 or call Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.