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Hold-Up Could Be Linked to Wayne County Robbery Spree

Posted April 19, 2007

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— Police are investigating whether an armed robber who held up a local grocery Wednesday night is tied to similar crimes in Wayne County.

A man barged into Howell Brothers Grocery late Wednesday, pointed a gun at the owner's head and demanded money several times before fleeing with the cash.

The owner, who was still visibly shaken Thursday morning, said the store had never seen an armed robber before in its 60 years in business. He declined to discuss the incident, saying he just wanted to get on with business as usual.

Kimberly Hall said she and other store employees were also stunned.

"It's got me now constantly on my guard, watching people coming in, watching their body language," Hall said.

"This is a real intense situation with a real dangerous suspect," Pikeville Police Chief Ken Barrett said.

The robber wore a mask, but police have released a surveillance video of the incident, hoping that someone will recognize his voice.

Authorities investigated a string of similar armed robberies in Wayne County a year ago, and Barrett said investigators are looking into whether they are connected to the latest robbery.

"At this point, we really don't know (if there's any connection). We're just looking into that," he said.

Investigators wouldn't say if they believe the robbery was gang-related, but many Pikeville residents said they've seen a recent rise in gangs and crime.

"People now are getting to the point where they are scared to be on the streets," Hall said.

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