A decision by the owner of a Carbon County store to confront a suspect in an attempted robbery Tuesday night proved to be well worth the risk, but may not be the right choice in other encounters.
What had been an ordinary night at Pappy's General Store in Bowmanstown soon took a turn for the worse as owner Bhaskarbhai P. Patel swept at the entrance of the store.
That's when a white male confronted Patel, displaying a small black handgun. The would-be robber demanded money from Patel, who explained the scenario he was faced with.
"I was by myself cleaning the floor when a guy came in and said 'Hey there, buddy, give me the money,'" Patel said. "I turned around, seen the gun, and thought, 'Oh my God.'"
Patel then used the broomstick he was using to sweep to strike the wrist of the hand holding the gun. The robber then fled the scene.
Patel's son, Birju, cautioned other store owners to be careful if they're faced with a similar situation.
"Be safe; it's really not worth your life at the end of the day," Birju said. "We have to act as one team and take control."
The suspect was described as being about five-feet tall, slim build, and was wearing a black hooded sweat shirt with the hood pulled up, black cloth material to cover his face, and black cloth gloves.
Patel said this was the first robbery at gunpoint since he bought the business back in 2008. Prior to that, Patel said his store had experienced four break-ins; three in 2009, and one in 2010.
Tuesday's incident was the latest attempt to hold up businesses in the Palmerton area.
Police from two counties converged at 9:37 p.m. Saturday night after a report of an armed robbery at the Pyramid Restaurant at 548 Mauch Chunk Road, Palmerton.
Police were dispatched that evening to a report of a female being robbed at gunpoint after a lone male, described as being in his 20s, between 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 with a thin build, brown hair, blue eyes, and dressed in all black with a black covering over his face, brandished a handgun and robbed the business.
Police searched the railroad bed behind the restaurant and the surrounding area but came up empty-handed. No injuries were reported in the incident. The robber made off with an undetermined amount of cash.
That incident came after three suspects were arrested in connection with a pair of armed robberies at the Convenient Food Mart at 643 Delaware Ave., Palmerton, last month.
James Dee Archer, 33, Freddie M. Knight, 38, and Arlene Ann Jones, 44, all of 302 Delaware Ave., were charged with committing the robberies within the span of four days from April 26-29.
Archer was charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property. He remains in Carbon County Prison in lieu of $100,000 straight cash bail.
Knight was charged with robbery, theft by unlawful taking, and receiving stolen property. He remains in Carbon County Prison in lieu of $75,000 straight cash bail.
Jones was charged with criminal conspiracy, robbery, criminal conspiracy theft by unlawful taking, and criminal conspiracy receiving stolen property. She was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
A preliminary hearing for the three suspects is scheduled to be held at 10 a.m. May 23, before District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.