JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An employee at the Safari Food Store on San Marco Boulevard said he was held at gunpoint during a robbery Wednesday night.
According to the unidentified employee, who spoke to News4Jax in the midst of investigators with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the robber entered the store armed with a handgun. He ordered everyone in the store to the ground and put the gun to the back of the employee's head.
The man took money and cigarettes before running off, according to the store manager, who asked not to be identified. The manager said he was armed with a handgun for protection, but never brandished the firearm. He said three of his employees were in the store at the time of the robbery.
"I don't even know how to explain it. One minute you're fine, the next you just pause. You're frozen," the manager said. "He (the robber) knew exactly what he was doing, and you could tell he did this multiple times."
The manager believed the way the man might have had some type of tactical training, which is why the manager said he never pulled his concealed firearm.
Martin Lopez is a former member of the military and currently a safety and security expert for Red Team, a Jacksonville organization that provides training on how to act in active shooter scenarios. He said the store manager did the right thing.
"Presenting the weapon is one step. Then, what kind of condition is the weapon in? Is the weapon already loaded? Is there a round in the chamber? Is the safety on?" Lopez said. "He (the manager) knew that if he started drawing, based on what was happening in front of him, he was going to be seen drawing, which would agitate and escalate (the situation) even further."
Investigators with the Sheriff's Office who were at the scene did not confirm any information.