By Margie Wuebker
A gun-wielding robber struck early today at Docksider Marathon, 303 S. Main St., escaping with an undetermined amount of cash.
The suspect entered the business shortly after 4:30 a.m. and jumped across the service counter. Brandishing a black handgun, he demanded money from the female cashier.
The woman complied and placed the money in a blue plastic-type bag the robber brought with him, according to Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser. The man then ran through a rear door and apparently fled the area on foot.
Police officers arrived on the scene within two minutes of the cashier’s 911 call logged at 4:41 a.m. The unidentified woman was visibly shaken but otherwise unhurt, according to Slusser.
Also responding were three off-duty police officers and two Mercer County Sheriff’s deputies. They immediately canvassed the area to the north, south and west in an attempt to locate the suspect or find someone who might have spotted a tall, slender man running from the business.
Search activities shifted to Ash Street after police received a report of someone crossing Main Street in that direction shortly after the robbery. Officers checked alleys and dumpsters, but found no suspect or evidence, according to Slusser.
The suspect apparently wasted no time inside the store before confronting the cashier. There were no other employees or customers inside at the time.
The cashier told 911 dispatchers the man came into the gas station/convenience store wearing a blue sweatshirt turned backward with eyeholes cut into the hood area, a dark sock hat and yellow gloves. He spoke very little, except to demand cash and to warn her not to call police.
Authorities remained on the scene approximately three hours collecting evidence. The business reopened a short time later. Police returned to the scene shortly after 9:30 a.m. and reportedly found a coat on the roof of a nearby building. It is not known at this point whether the garment has any tie to the armed robbery.
“We are interviewing some individuals who might have information regarding the robbery,” Slusser told The Daily Standard this morning. Some of those interviews are taking place at residences while others are being conducted at the police station.
Celina has been the scene of at least four armed robberies since July 11 of last year when the first of two such crimes occurred at the local CVS Pharmacy on North Main Street. The most recent incident occurred Sept. 10 at a Teaberry Lane home. The perpetrators are currently serving prison terms. Police continue to investigate an earlier robbery at a video rental business.