Police search for armed robbery suspects

Friday, August 10, 2007 | 1:14 p.m. CDT; updated 9:55 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Columbia - Columbia police were looking for a man this morning who they said attempted to rob a 24-year-old cashier at gunpoint at a West Columbia grocery store, said Columbia police Sgt. Ken Hammond.

Columbia police responded to a call at 12:49 a.m. today at Gerbes Supermarket, 1729 W. Broadway, where a cashier told police a man walked into the store and asked for change. When the cashier opened the cash drawer, the man produced what the cashier described as an automatic handgun with wood on the sides and demanded money, Hammond said.

The cashier was able to close the cash drawer before the suspect could get any money. Hammond said the cashier was not injured.

Police described the man as a 35- to 40-year-old black man with short curly hair and a dark complexion, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 150 to 170 pounds. The man’s right eye was described as bloodshot and puffy, and he had red spots around his mouth. Police said he was wearing a white T-shirt and dark, dirty bluejeans at the time of the incident.

The man left the store in a white, late 1980s or early 1990s four-door passenger car and drove west on Ash Street, Hammond said.

The Major Crimes Unit of the Columbia Police Department was investigating the case.

Hammond said police are also looking into the possibility that the same man robbed a 20-year-old employee at gunpoint at the Super 8 Motel in northeast Columbia later in the morning.

At 1:26 a.m., police were called to the hotel at 5700 Freedom Drive, where an employee told police a man entered the Super 8 Motel and confronted her with what she described as a short, sawed-off double-barreled shotgun. The man left the hotel with an undisclosed amount of cash in a white passenger car, Hammond said.

Police described the man as an approximately 40-year-old black man with a muscular build, about 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing about 200 pounds, with sores or scars around his mouth. Police said he was wearing a white T-shirt, shorts and a black ball cap at the time of the incident.

Anyone with any information should call CrimeStoppers at 875-8477.

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