Columbia police believe 3 brazen, armed robberies are connected

(Courtesy: Columbia Police Department)

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) – Columbia police are afraid someone is going to be killed if they don’t get a group of brazen bandits behind bars.

The armed robbers have hit at least three convenience stores in as many weeks. Each time, the hooded men pull out weapons, and twice they have hit the cooperative clerks in the head.

The most recent attack happened Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Sky Mart on Santa Fe Pike in Columbia.

(Courtesy: Columbia Police Department)
(Courtesy: Columbia Police Department)

Surveillance video shows two men rush into the market, one armed with a long gun that has a pistol grip.

You can hear the bandits sounding nervous and anxious as they yell at the 45-year-old.

The clerk throws up his hands as he is demanded behind the counter to open the register. He is cooperative, never even looking at the gunman.

But on their way out, for no reason, the gun-wielding thief smashes the clerk in the head, dropping him to the floor.

The clerk then called 911 and said, “He pushed me to the floor and told me, ‘Don’t move and go away,’ for about five seconds. I am scared; they have a gun.”

Lt. Joey Gideon with Columbia police told News 2 the crimes are horribly violent and the potential for death is very high.

“A lot of violence going on for very little reward,” he said.

Police told News 2 the latest is frighteningly similar to other armed robberies that took place nearby.

(Courtesy: Columbia Police Department)
(Courtesy: Columbia Police Department)

One week before the latest incident on Nov. 29, a robber was caught on surveillance sticking what appears to be an assault-style weapon in the face of the clerk at the Spur market.

And on Nov. 13, video from a discount tobacco store shows two gunmen not only robbing the clerk but beating him in the head with a gun.

“Worst case scenario, someone gets nervous and someone gets shot,” Lt. Gideon said.

Columbia police say there’s a strong chance the robberies are connected. Authorities have strong evidence but are hoping the public can help crack the case.

In 2013, Columbia police solved seven of 15 armed robberies. In 2014, they solved 14 out of 14. In 2015, they solved seven out of 10, and so far this year, they have solved three of 7.

Anyone with information on the latest robberies or anyone who recognizes the suspects from surveillance is urged to call Columbia police at 931-560-1670 or Crime Stoppers at 931-381-4900.

News 2 is committed to tracking across Middle Tennessee. Visit wkrn.com/crimetracker for the latest.