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Fed-up clerk says she locked attacker in store

July 29, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Wayne's Country Store clerk Peggy Moats was fed up with robbers by the time Bernard Leonard Cole walked into the west Hagerstown store in March and demanded all of her money.

The West Washington Street business has been robbed six times in more than four years, she told Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell Thursday after Cole pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in connection with the March 8 incident.

So, at about 7:50 p.m., after Cole told Moats "I want all your money or I'll shoot you," and tried to get into the store's cash register - hitting Moats four times in the process - Moats "grabbed the keys to the store, fled the store and locked him inside," said Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Gina Cirincion.

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Moats told McDowell, "I'm tired of people getting off because there's not enough evidence, not enough that ... Nobody gives me anything."

Sentencing was delayed Thursday for Cole, 34, whose last known address is listed in charging documents as 40 Alexander St. in Hagerstown. His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, said Cole wants to finish programs, including an anger management class, he started at the Washington County Detention Center before he goes to prison.

Cirincion recommended a six-year prison term for the conviction.

She told McDowell that when police found Cole, he was hiding in a storage closet. He had climbed onto a metal rack and refused to move, prompting police officers to use a Taser on him to gain his compliance, according to charging documents.

On him, Cole had a pack of cigarettes he allegedly stole from the store, she said. Moats said police later found her wallet, which she alleged Cole stole from her, in the store.

Cirincion said Cole owes $128.71 in damages to the store.

McDowell commended Moats for her quick thinking.

She told him, matter-of-factly, "I knew my day was coming. I've been there for four years."

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