Armed Robbery

“Chief Dispatcher to all units, we have a report of a robbery in progress at the Post Office located in XXX Mall.  Reports are there is a male suspect inside the premise with a gun.”

Multiple units responded as dispatch kept us updated with what was happening.  Several people were inside the Post Office when a man walked in, pulled out a gun and started to scream at the cashier to hand over the money.  The customers could not get out as the gunman had them all under his control, but thankfully, the gunman wasn’t looking to take hostages and he had not chosen that particular day to make his stand against the world. 

Once the cashier filled his bag with all the money available from the safe, the gunman burst out through the door and ran away, quickly disappearing around the side of the building.

A short time later my cell phone shrilled from my duty bag sitting on the passenger seat.  Almost without exception I ignore my phone when on the way to a call, but this time, for some reason, I groped around on the seat, located my phone and flipped it open.

“Hello?”

“It’s mom!  A man had a gun! At the Post Office!”

My breath wooshed out as if I’d been punched in the gut and I peppered mom with questions.

“Where are you? Are you safe? Did you call 911?”

Mom was able to answer affirmative to all of the above.  Thank God for small miracles.

————

My mother had gone to the Post Office and was waiting in line when a young man came through the door.  Mom said she thought the young man worked there as he walked in like he owned the place.  Mom even moved out of the way to allow him access the counter.

Then, to my mother’s horror, the young man lifted up his shirt, removed a silver handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the head of the woman behind the counter.

Knowing her day had gone from routine to very, very bad, mom turned on her heel, took two quick steps and pushed out through the door.  She was the only to make it out of the Post Office and she said she likely got away with it because the man’s attention was on the cashier.  When outside she realized her cell phone was still in her car so mom hurried to the parking lot while warning others to stay away from the Post Office as there was a man inside with a gun.

A minute later the 911 call taker asked her if the suspect was still there, but from where mom was seated in her car she could not see into the Post Office.  So mom started up her car and changed her location in the lot to get a better view.

“No, he’s gone.  He’s not inside the Post Office anymore.  I don’t know where he is or where he went.”

And with that, my mom told the call taker she was leaving the parking lot as there was a mad gunman running around somewhere and she didn’t feel like being carjacked.

————

Knowing my mom had been one of the up close witnesses to the robbery was very unsettling. 

According to statistics, I am the person in my family most at risk for not coming home at the end of my shift.  Well, truthfully, my husband is at a high risk as well, but his adversaries are heat, fire, and collapsing buildings, not armed suspect intent on doing him harm. 

Even though officers respond to similar calls as this one on a weekly basis, knowing a family member is involved always changes the dynamics of how we treat these calls.  Our family members are not suppose to be witnesses to armed robberies.  Our loved ones are not supposed to be victimized – it just goes against everything we as officers train for and upsets the balance many of us feel we have gained by offering our services in exchange for the safety of our families.  Rational thought?  Not really, but it’s the way many of us feel.

In this case, no one was physically injured and my mom now has an exciting story to tell.  But it still socks it home that life is so incredibly fragile and unpredictable.

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