Published - June, 16, 2006
Trainee suspected in violent convenience store robbery
Clerk bound, pistol-whipped
Chrissy Cresswell and Amy Sowder
The convenience store manager lay in puddles of blood on the cooler floor, her hands handcuffed, her head beaten with a pistol.
But she told police she thought she recognized her assailant despite the black bandanna over the face of the woman who told her "If you don't shut up, I'm going to kill you."
Her assailant, she told officers, was a trainee at the store, hired just a few days before.
On Thursday, Escambia County deputies arrested Rochelle Davis, 20, who they said took at least $300 from the Tom Thumb convenience store where she recently had been hired.
She was charged with attempted murder, robbery with a firearm and grand theft. She remained in Escambia County Jail late Thursday in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Sgt. Mike Ward, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said the case was unusual in several ways: First, the suspect is a woman; second, she was an employee; third, the manager was injured.
"It's not that often you have an employee use force to rob. Usually when you see something like this with an employee it is theft," Ward said. "They just take things at the end of their shift or something like that. We don't see a lot of this."
The assistant store manager told investigators the assailant approached her about 5 a.m. Tuesday as she was opening the store on Olive Road, west of Whitmire Drive.
The manager told police the woman showed her a pistol and told her, "I am not going to hurt you.
Just get inside."
The robber then handcuffed the manager while they waited 10 minutes for the time-delayed safe to open. When it did, the robber emptied the cash into a black bag and escorted the manager to the cooler in the back of the store.
The robber instructed her to kneel down so she could take the handcuffs off.
The robber then struck her in the back of the head with the pistol.
The manager told investigators that she started screaming. The robber responded by hitting her with the pistol four more times in the face and the head.
"It is a pretty violent case," Ward said. "Usually in a convenience store case, they aren't really in it to hurt anyone. They just want to get their money and get out. But there are those with a criminal nature."
When deputies arrived, the manager was near the front of the store with her hands handcuffed behind her and was bleeding from the head.
Deputies found puddles of blood in the cooler and a trail of blood leading to the front door.
Investigators were able to use the video surveillance tape to prepare a photo of the suspect who unmasked and looked at the camera while exiting the store. Upon viewing the photo, the manager positively identified the suspect as her new employee.
Robert Tober, a clerk at the store, said he had been training the suspect for three days.
"Something felt off," Tober said. "It was just a feeling I had."