Store employee robbed at gunpoint in Tulare County, deputies say

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Caught on camera, a man storms into the Dollar General on Road 192 in the small town of Poplar in Tulare County with a gun in hand, demanding money.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Office says it happened just before 7 pm.

"It was over $1,000 that the suspect got away with," says Ashley Ritchie with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office. "As far as we know, he left south but don't know if he got in a car or not or where he is."

Ritchie says the suspect was wearing a brown jacket, possibly a black sweatshirt and spoke Spanish.

Officials say the suspect pistol-whipped the evening shift employee. Thankfully, his wounds could be treated by emergency crews on scene.

"So many of them come with weapons, and you don't know what they are going to do, so your best bet is to cooperate with them and give them what they want," Ritchie said. "It's a pretty vulnerable position to be in. A lot of the time, you are the only person in the store."

The victim suffered minor injuries, but her co-worker, Eduardo Pompa, who was not working during her shift, says she was shaken up after the unexpected and horrifying night.

"She responded today actually that she is okay, minor injuries, and I am very glad about that," he said.

Pompa says in his two years of working at the Dollar General, he's dealt with a lot of shoplifting but never an armed robbery.

"Not like this, not like this, this is worse," he said. "Usually, I catch shoplifters with no problem, but this was bad. It was ugly."

Ritchie says cashiers and clerks must always protect themselves first when dealing with armed robberies.

"Don't try to be a hero," she said. "These suspects are coming in, they want money. Don't try to fight or talk them out. Give them what they want."

She says this is Tulare County's 14th armed robbery of the year. They typically happen near the 99, but everyone should stay vigilant and always report them to 911.
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