Holdups in Brownsville, Derry, Uniontown spur police to urge caution
When a robber held customers and staff of Pixel's Restaurant at gunpoint and demanded money on June 25, co-owner Virginia Courie's first instinct was to comply with his orders.
“I've been in retail for 30 years, and that's what I was always taught,” Courie, 60, said. “Give them whatever they want.”
After a recent spate of armed robberies at Courie's Brownsville restaurant, TJ's Pub and Grille in Derry and Potter's Restaurant in Uniontown, police are urging anyone in the same situation to follow Courie's lead and willingly comply with the demands of intruders.
“You don't know if they're going to shoot or not,” Courie said. “I had a gun in my face for most of the time (he) was in here, and you don't know if the gun is real or not.”
People should always meet an intruder's demands, especially when they merely want physical possessions, state police spokesman Steve Limani said.
If an intruder begins using a weapon or carrying out violent acts, people should “run, hide or fight” and do whatever is most practical to protect themselves and others, Limani said.
“They should do whatever they need to do to overcome the force being used against them,” he said.
Uniontown city police Chief Jason Cox echoed Limani's advice.
“Of course, if there is a safe route of exit that you could use to get away from the potential threat and you have the ability to do so, that would be an option,” he said. “If you are stuck in a situation where someone is demanding possessions, be compliant and cooperative and give them whatever they are asking for.”
Cox also advises people to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior.
“Be observant and aware of your surroundings,” he said. “If someone enters a bar in the middle of summer and they're wearing a trench coat, that could be a clue. Just be aware.”
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.