Williston saw its first gunpoint robbery of the year Friday afternoon, when a man between 25 to 30 years of age held up the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Essex Road.
The man, who is still at large, walked into the secondhand store, and then stood in line with customers behind him before he approached the cashier and displayed a handgun at 3:45 p.m., workers and police said.
In a bystander cell phone photo, cashier Phyllis Etheridge is facing the man, who is wearing a green golf shirt and has a white cloth wrapped around his head draped down his back, similar to a desert-style headdress. Police said he was also wearing jeans and white sneakers, and that he had brown hair, brown eyes and a pointy nose.
Habitat for Humanity Executive Director David Mullin said the staff was able to usher customers and uninvolved staff out the back door while the holdup took place, and said several witnesses were helpful in giving police identifying information.
“We are upgrading our facilities with surveillance cameras, and we had prepared for this in trainings, but we’ll be doing more of them,” said Mullin. No workers or customers were injured, he said, and said that Etheridge told him she wasn’t frightened by the incident.
“She told him, ‘Get a job,’” Mullin said. She told Mullin that she had experienced a holdup once before and wasn’t too ruffled.
Etheridge got the suspect the money he demanded with the help of the assistant manager, Mullin said. It was just about $500, and the suspect took off before police arrived, Williston Police said.
“It’s pretty sad, stealing from a small nonprofit like ours,” said Mullin. The offender is believed to have left the scene in a black GMC extended cab pickup truck, police said.
Though the store at 528 Essex Road first opened in 2012, it has doubled in size since then after an expansion last year.
Police Chief Todd Shepard said this was the first holdup at gunpoint in the town since the start of 2016, and is only the third in the past two years. Last year, a cashier at O’Brien’s Town and Country convenience store, part of a Shell station at 5085 Williston Road near North Brownell Road, was held up at gunpoint at around 7:30 p.m. The robber, who flashed a handgun and made off with an unidentified amount of cash in the Dec. 14 robbery, allegedly drove away in an older model red Chevrolet pickup truck, police said. He was described as having light eyes, and a white male in his early 20s, about 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds.
The last holdup prior to December was in March of 2014, at a GameStop video game retailer in Maple Tree Place. “All still remain unsolved,” said Shepard, who added that no leads have emerged in either of the older cases, and no arrests were made.
“We are fortunate that we haven’t had any other incidents such as this in Williston,” he said.
Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Williston Police Department at 878-6611.