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Armed man holds up Martinsburg business

February 03, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man armed with a gun made off with a bag of money after robbing a downtown convenience store Sunday afternoon, the latest in a string of at least 12 robberies in Berkeley County since October.

The suspect in Sunday's robbery at Old Berkeley News walked in the North Queen Street store about 4:03 p.m. and showed a handgun to an employee working at the cash register, said the worker and Martinsburg Police.

The store employee said the man demanded $20 bills and $50 bills from a state lottery machine.

After the employee handed the man the cash, the suspect demanded $5 bills from the cash register, the employee said.

It was not clear how much money was stolen.

The suspect, described as a black man with a thin build, ran out of the store on foot and was last seen heading east on Burke Street, police said.

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A woman who was in the store at the time of the robbery said the suspect had a ski mask pulled down over his face. The woman said the employee was telling the man to remove the mask.

"All of the sudden, he pulled out a gun and said 'give me all your money,'" said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

The man was further described as being between 5 feet, 8 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches tall and wearing green coveralls, gloves and a blue hat, police said. The handgun the suspect displayed was silver, police said.

Police, aided by a West Virginia State Police police dog unit, searched the area but were unable to find the man.

Anyone who has information about the robbery or information about the identity of the suspect are being urged to call city police at 304-264-2100 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

It was the latest robbery since a Days Inn hotel on Viking Way was robbed Jan. 27 at 3:15 a.m., said Detective George Swartwood.

In that robbery, a black man wearing black pants, gray knit gloves and a black and gray sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head gave a demand note to a night desk clerk and motioned as if he had a gun, Swartwood said.

No weapon was displayed and the man left with a small amount of money, Swartwood said.

Less than 24 hours earlier, a black man wearing a black jacket, black pants, a black skullcap and black gloves passed a demand note to a cashier at the 7-Eleven at 846 E. Moler Ave., and made motions as if he had a gun, police said.

The man escaped with a small amount of money.

The incidents are part of a string of robberies that have occurred at gas stations, stores, a bank and a credit union, said police, who believe they are being committed by people trying to support crack and heroin habits. Arrests have been made in some of the robberies.

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