An armed robbery suspect left a South Hill 7-11 empty-handed -- and without a crucial piece of evidence that may help police track him down -- Thursday morning after the store's clerk broke the bandit's pistol.
The incident happened early Thursday morning at the 7-11 franchise located at 30th and Regal. Now the policy at 7-11 is to comply with suspects' requests during a hold up so customers and employees don't get hurt. But in this case the clerk working early Thursday morning had some special insight into the would-be robber's weapon the suspect didn't know about.
The incident started when the suspect entered the store and head straight to the cooler, keeping his back to the clerk.
"Came in, pretended like he was shopping, went to the counter with a Red Bull and then displayed what appeared to be a handgun in an attempt to rob the store," Spokane Police Lieutenant Alan Arnzen said.
Then, as the clerk stared down the barrel of the gun, he suddenly told the suspect there wasn't going to be a robbery. Why? Because he knew the gun wasn't real.
"The clerk recognized the gun as what he believed to be an Airsoft pistol and confronted the robber," Arnzen said.
It turns out the clerk, an Army veteran, has a deep knowledge of replica airsoft guns from his work at Spokane Airsoft in NorthTown Mall.
"From what I've heard he had worked at a business that sold Airsoft so he was very familiar with them. So when he saw it he felt comfortable that it was not a real gun," Arnzen said.
The clerk even grabbed the gun and it broke as he struggled with the pistol. The suspect ran out the door leaving behind a very important piece of evidence.
"He'd grabbed a Red Bull as if to purchase it but he was not wearing any gloves so we've taken that item for printing," Arnzen said.
So the clerk gets high marks for foiling a robbery but the head's up play has left police a little nervous about his heroics.
"We would not advise the public to confront somebody who appears to have a weapon because it could be real and it could cost you your life," Arnzen said.
Police hope if you witness a crime to be a good witness, get plates, clothing description, directions of travel and then get that information to 911 as soon as possible.