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Maplewood police seek public's assistance to identify armed robbery suspect
Popeye's employee tussles with robber after a gun is put to his head
The Maplewood Police Department is attempting to identify a gunman who attempted to rob the Popeye's Chicken restaurant on Beam Avenue near Maplewood Mall.
Shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, a man with a handgun entered the back door of the restaurant moments after two employees exited to take trash to a dumpster.
After entering, he grabbed a male employee from behind, held the gun to the employee's head and demanded that the safe be opened.
Concerned for his safety, the employee, who had been mopping the floor, fought back. The gunman was able to break free and flee out the back door.
During the struggle, the employee was pistol-whipped by the suspect and sustained minor injuries.
Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said that it is very rare to have someone fight back in an armed robbery. He added that the typical responses are to run, hide or fight, and unlike the other employees, the one that the robber grabbed on the back of the neck felt he couldn’t run or hide.
“He was afraid he was going to become a hostage,” Schnell explained. “Fortunately he wasn’t shot.” Schnell added that the employee walked away with only a few bumps, bruises and scratches.
The suspect wore a black hoodie, red stocking cap, a face mask and gloves when he entered the building. He was later described as a black male, 20 to 30 years old, between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall, and weighing 150 to 180 pounds. The suspect also had a number of tattoos on his arms.
Officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspect, and it's not known if he had a vehicle.
During the struggle with the employee, the gunman's red stocking cap came off his head. Officers were able to recover the cap and have sent it to the crime lab for DNA testing.
Maplewood police said that because of the violent nature of the attempted robbery, it is hoped that the suspect can be quickly identified and they are seeking the public's assistance.
The suspect is considered armed and dangerous, and should not be directly confronted, the police said.
Anyone with information as to the identity and/or whereabouts of the suspect is asked to call the Maplewood Police Department at 651-767-0640 or 9-1-1. Information can be provided anonymously by texting the keyword MAPLEWOOD followed by the tip information to TIP411 (847411). Tip411 can also be accessed on the department's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/maplewoodpd/. Another method for providing information is through Crime Stoppers of Minnesota at 1-800-222-8477 or online at crimestoppersmn.org.