COLUMBIA — Columbia police suspect two armed robberies at two businesses this week may be related.
The first incident occurred around 7 p.m. Monday at Range Line Liquor on 901 Safari Drive. A man wearing a sweatshirt and ski mask pointed a handgun at the cashier and demanded money. The cashier complied, and the suspect left with a small amount of cash, Public Information Officer Jessie Haden said.
The cashier told police he saw an SUV leave the area soon after the incident, but he did not see the robber get into that car. Police were looking into the possibility that the vehicle could belong to the suspect. During the robbery, there were no customers in the store. Police planned to review the surveillance footage from the store, Haden said.
The second robbery took place at around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Dreams Smoke Shop at 101 E. Walnut. The robber pointed a gun at an employee, demanded money and ordered the customers to get on the ground, store owner Shaun Ward said. According to Haden, no one was injured.
After getting the money, the robber left. Witnesses later spotted an SUV quickly leaving the area. Customers and witnesses outside the store helped give officers what Haden called a good description. Witnesses described the suspect as a man around 5 feet 10 inches tall, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a mask of some kind.
Haden said investigators have reason to believe the cases may be connected. The robberies happened a day apart, and the descriptions of the suspect and the vehicle leaving the scenes for both robberies were similar, she said. “It’s possible these robberies are related, but maybe not,” she said.
The lead investigator has a possible lead on a suspect, but Haden said she could not share any more information at this time.