January 10, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---It's a new year with a new string of robberies...and deputies believe different suspects are on the loose in each one.
Meanwhile, victims are living with the knowledge that dangerous criminals are out there somewhere.
We're only ten days into the new year, and already Richmond County investigators have their hands full. They just released a picture of a man wanted for questioning after a woman was robbed at Dent's Undertaking: Harry Belafonte Mitchell.
Four other businesses were also robbed so far this year. Investigators think there are different suspects in each one---and they're still on the loose.
The crime that has them the most concerned was captured on surveillance video. Two men with guns walked into the Richmond Hill Market on New Year's Day.
Even though there were eight different cameras and one clear shot of the gunmen, investigators are still scrambling for clues.
Too scared to go on camera, one of the victims of the robbery says when the gunmen walked in, they immediately started firing...and the holes in the counter prove just how close those bullets got to her.
She says the man dressed in black kept shooting while his partner tried to walk around to her at the cash register. She told them, "Please don't shoot, I'll give you money," and the gunman stopped.
Terrified of what they might do next, she says she crouched down on the floor...but when her husband came out of the back room he thought she was hurt so he tried to come to her rescue, and that's when the gunman pointed the gun at him and fired.
"In this one the victim survived after being shot twice," said Sgt. Richard Roundtree. "Those are the ones that scare us."
The gunman in white shot the victim once in the leg then came back and shot him again in the stomach.
Despite several surveillance cameras both in and out of the store, investigators still haven't made an arrest.
"Most of the time we ID a suspect, but they know they're wanted, so they either go on the run or change their location so it's hard to track them down," Sgt. Roundtree said.
This robbery at Richmond Rill Market is perfect example of what investigators like to call a "crime of opportunity", because you're offering a tempting target.
"Robbers will wait until there are no customers in the store," Sgt. Roundtree said. "If you have more employees in the store it makes you less of a target."
And while he says the surveillance video is helpful, an arrest depends on the information they get in the first 15 minutes of getting the call for help.
"We could maybe get a tag number or vehicle description, clothing," he explained.
That window of opportunity is very important. We've got some pretty good surveillance video, but investigators actually need more. They know it's hard to be a good witness when you're under fire, but making mental notes of details is extremely important in helping them make an arrest.
Investigators are still looking for these robbers. If you have any information, call the police.
The victim who was shot has been released from the hospital and says he's doing a lot better. However, he's still not able to walk.