Robbery spree hits 6 shops in Philly

June 19, 2009 9:44:32 AM PDT
Police are trying to solve a robbery spree that's been playing itself out in West Philadelphia.Police believe the suspects have struck six businesses since Tuesday.

Thursday night, according to police, one of the suspects struck again. This time, he held up Neet's Lounge at Paxon and Market streets around 8:30 p.m. The suspect was armed with an Uzi submachine gun. He demanded money and made off on a bicycle.

"He came in and said 'open that "so-and-so" register. Give me all the money in there," said witness Edwin Saunders.

The suspect has held up bars or liquor stores six times now. The man with the Uzi is described as a short African-American. Saunders said the gunman frightened everyone.

"He was just looking all around as if he might have sprayed the bar," Saunders said.

Police say the suspect was alone while robbing Neet's, and escaped on a BMX bicycle.

During three of the robberies, police say the uzi-weilding bandit was joined by a taller accomplice armed with a semiautomatic 9mm handgun. Police are concerned one of the robberies could end with a deadly confrontation.

"The weapon he has is an especially high-capacity weapon, and the fact that he's this young age I'm sure he hasn't handled any weapon let alone a weapon this power and with this capacity so now we have a full-court press, and hopefully we'll get him off the street as soon as possible," said Lt. John Walker of the Philadelphia Police.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have joined the investigation, according to Philadelphia police.

Investigators released surveillance pictures of the armed heist at the state store at 46th and Lancaster on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Marcia Williamson is still traumatized by a robbery at her store Tuesday night at the corner of 50th and Market. Her family has owned and operated the store for 40 years.

That night two masked men stormed in, she said. One carried an uzi-style pistol, the other a 9-millimeter handgun. They demanded money from the cash register, the safe and the patrons.

"He kept saying 'Where's the safe, where's the safe? Give me all the money, you have to have more than this,'" Williamson recalled. "Then he said, "You're all going to make me shoot somebody, you're all going to make me kill somebody."

Police say the suspects have fled on bicycles parked a block from their targets. At midday Wednesday they hit a mini-market at 51st and Haverford. Then, just before 5:00 p.m., they hit acorner bar at 52nd and Wyalusing, getting away with roughly $300.

"I hope they catch them, because somebody's going to get hurt sooner or later," said manager Maggie Bigelow. "And I'd rather it not be me!"

If you have any information in this crime you are urged to call police at 215-686-3183.

You can get the latest crime statistics from the Philadelphia Police by CLICKING HERE for the force's crime data mapping site.

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