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Agencies focus on armed robbery attempt
Mark Gerbino, Rincon police chief, addresses the media Friday with several officers behind him. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Particularly around holiday time, pay attention. No call to the police is ever a wasted call and, in this case, it could possibly have prevented a recurrence of this kind of event and maybe put these suspects, who are armed and dangerous, in custody.
Mark Gerbino, Rincon police chief

RINCON — On the evening of Dec. 12, a would-be robber walked into a convenience store armed with something that concerns local law enforcement officials at least as much as the firearm he held by his side.

He also possessed high-caliber audacity.

"The shotgun was in plain view," said Mark Gerbino, chief of the Rincon Police Department.  "That's a bold move for a robbery suspect. That tells us that they were in there to do business ..."

At around 9:50 p.m. on Dec. 12, a masked individual wearing nothing but black, including gloves, entered the Chevron store at 295 S. Columbia Ave. after approaching the property from the rear. The suspect, believed to a 5-foot-11, 160-pound black male, was accompanied by an individual thought to be a black female.

"One subject was armed with a shortened-barrelled shotgun and the other subject stood outside, possibly armed as well," Gerbino said during a Friday news conference at police headquarters.

The second suspect, clad in a gray sweatshirt, dark jeans and white shoes, sported a white head and face covering with black tribal art designs.

The shotgun-wielding suspect was in the store for a very short time. He exited, taking only a pack of cigarettes, after finding no one at the cash register. The clerk had stepped into the bathroom and was unaware of the bandits' presence.

"In twenty seconds, they made a decision — 'Nope. Not here. Let's get out of here,' " Gerbino said. "That's calculating, so let's hope we can grab these two."

In no hurry, the suspects calmly walked past three vehicles with customers inside them while leaving the scene.

"It appears that the suspects probably fled through the back of the station (property) toward a cut," Gerbino said. "We can only assume one way or another and, in our business, we don't assume anything. Either there was a vehicle there or there wasn't.

"Either way, what we don't have to assume is that we had an armed subject enter what he believed to be an inhabited convenience store and you can only speculate about the outcome."

 Gerbino is using the incident to educate the public about how to report crimes in progress.

"While this is an anomaly for this area, what is important is to pay attention to what happened," he said. "... The subjects were observed by customers at the station and the customers didn't call the police. They called the station.

"We had a 16-minute lapse in the time before we got the call. We were there in forty seconds."

Gerbino prescribed the proper response.

"Call 911," he said. "It's quite possible, with a 40-second response time, that we could have caught the suspect inside."

Gerbino said citizens are crucial in the fight against crime.

"Particularly around holiday time, pay attention," he said. "No call to the police is ever a wasted call and, in this case, it could possibly have prevented a recurrence of this kind of event and maybe put these suspects, who are armed and dangerous, in custody.

"The good piece is that nobody got hurt and we are working at case that we are going to close at some point in time because nobody is going to come into Rincon or Effingham County and do this kind of thing without repercussions. That's our hope.

"Sheriff (Jimmy) McDuffie has been on the phone with me — and other agencies — and that's what we're doing. We have a full team out there."

Chevron robbery attempt on Dec. 12

Chevron Attempted Robbery 121318

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