BUTNER, N.C. — Authorities in three counties are investigating whether three early morning robberies with similar suspect descriptions are related.
Durham police say three black men robbed a Durham BP gas station just after 1 a.m. Wednesday.
According to police, the men demanded that a clerk open the safe. When the clerk could not, they took money from the cash drawer and fled the scene. Two of the men were wearing bandanas and a third was wearing a hooded shirt. One of the men was armed with a shotgun.
Butner police believe the group hit the 24-Hour Waffle and Pancake House restaurant on N.C. 56 around 3:15 a.m.
Police say the men entered the restaurant from a rear entrance and forced employees to the floor.
"They pulled everything out of the safe and had the register open," employee Susan Humphries said.
No one who works at the restaurant can recall a robbery ever taking place there.
"It's people without jobs in desperate times, but that doesn't make it right to come in an terrorize people," Humphries said.
A cook was injured when he attempted to get up from the floor.
"One of the guys had a large tomato juice can in his hand and just hit [the cook] in the back of the head. He bled quite a bit," Humphries said.
The men left with an undisclosed amount of money. They were reportedly wearing blue bandanas and fled the scene on foot.
A third robbery was reported in Franklin County at ET'S Quick Stop on N.C. 43 west around 4 a.m.
Deputies say three men wearing bandanas were involved. One of the men was wearing a polka-dotted bandana.
They say one of the men was armed with a shotgun and another was armed with a handgun. A third man was not armed.
Franklin County officials say the men moved the store owner and one employee into an office while they robbed the store. They left with an undisclosed amount of money and a .32-caliber handgun belonging to the store owner.
No one was injured. The sheriff's office is studying store surveillance tape, which shows one of the masked men pointing a gun at the store clerk.