BASALT, Colo. - The manager of the Basalt 7-Eleven store escaped injury while being robbed at knifepoint early Saturday, police said.
The robber wasn't apprehended but police have his image from the store's surveillance system and are searching for him, Basalt Sgt. Stu Curry said.
The robbery occurred at about 12:30 a.m. The manager, who was filling in for another employee and working alone, was outside the store having a cigarette and talking on a cordless phone to a friend.
A man came in to buy cigarettes, so the manager went inside the store for the sale. The man departed but soon re-entered the store and indicated he needed a soda. The female manager was walking around the counter when the man grabbed her by the sweatshirt, placed what was described as a large kitchen knife at her side and ordered her in Spanish to hang up the phone. The manager complied, but she also managed to dial 911 without the robber knowing, Curry said. The manager wasn't able to talk to police dispatchers, but the call made them aware of possible trouble.
Curry said the robber was able to get a small amount of money from the register. "He didn't get a big score," he said.
The robber than ordered the manager toward the back of the store with the apparent intent of fleeing through a back door. She told him she couldn't open it. As he was leading her toward the front of the store she broke his grip, locked herself in a bathroom and called police dispatchers. Curry and another officers were a short distance away attending to a traffic stop when they got the call. They rushed to the store and acted on the manager's assumption that the robber was still in the store. They discovered the robber had fled, so they attended to the manager.
"She had no injuries, thank God," Curry said. She was understandably traumatized by the incident, he added. Curry credited the manager with doing a good job dealing with the situation and getting herself in a safe position.
"We're proud of her. We all know her really well," Curry said.
No other customers were in the store at the time of the incident. Curry said he doubts the robbery was planned, because the overhead lights of a police car were visible a block or so away at the time. It's doubtful a robber acting on an advance plan would have been that brazen. Instead, he believes the robber saw an opportunity after entering the store and he acted on it.