Elk gets robbed for third time

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 22, 2003

When a customer leaves Elk Food Mart, a sign atop the exit reads: "Through these doors pass the best people in the world &045;&045; our customers."

Maybe the sign should come down after midnight.

Early Tuesday morning, Elk Food Mart was robbed. Again. It marks the third time in just more than a month that the store has been robbed &045;&045; this time by a knife-wielding crook who took $300 in cash and another $150 in rolled change.

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For Wade Jernigan, owner of Elk Food Mart, an overwhelming sense of frustration is understandable.

On May 2, a man wearing jeans and a red bandana held up an Elk clerk in the early morning hours and made off with an undisclosed amount of money. Two weeks later, another man walked into the convenience store with a gun and demanded money from the cash register.

On Tuesday, an unidentified suspect walked through the store after 2 a.m. and held a knife to the clerk.

In the first two robberies, police were able to nab the suspects before they made if far from the store. In large part, a quick response from police came because Elk Food Mart is located across the street from police headquarters. In the Tuesday morning robbery, however, police have not yet made an arrest.

Jernigan has a number of theories on the people targeting his store.

Though Jernigan believes disgruntled employees may have a hand in the series of robberies, he also believes the Demopolis Police force needs to do a better job patrolling the area near his store.

Avery, who said he couldn’t comment much on the case because it is still under investigation, did say that patrolling the area is his only option.

Demopolis City Councilman Willard Williams, a member of the city’s public safety committee, said he plans to look into the situation to see if something can be done to protect Elk Food Mart from the constant invasions.

When contacted Tuesday, Mayor Austin Caldwell had not yet heard about the latest robbery. However, he said surveillance could be used to help thwart the robberies.

The real victims

In the first two robberies of his store, Jernigan and Demopolis Police were able to recover the stolen money. On May 2, police were called as soon as the suspect left Elk Food Mart, and they literally walked out the front door of police headquarters to make the arrest.

Though police have yet to find the latest suspect and the $450 stolen, Jernigan is more worried about the night clerks who have faced the end of a pistol.

As for the latest robbery, Jernigan said the cashier working Tuesday night probably won’t stay on the night shift much longer &045;&045; especially if this happens again.

Why Elk Food Mart?

If logic played any part in the mind of a robber, most would think that targeting a convenience store across the street from a police station wouldn’t make much sense. And in the first two robberies, that logic held true.

Though police could not release whether or not they have a suspect in the latest robbery, Chief Avery did admit that having a police station across the street isn’t the only thing potential criminals think about. For instance, the area behind the Highway 43 store is wooded and congested, which makes a police search difficult. More important that that, though, is the area just North of the store.

Demopolis Policedo not have jurisdiction in Greene County.