PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A Portsmouth restaurant was robbed twice this weekend and police are asking for the community’s help to track down the suspect(s).
Police say someone held up the Church’s Chicken on Effingham Street around 8:35 p.m. Saturday — at gunpoint. There were no injuries reported.
The following evening, just after 9 p.m., the same restaurant was targeted again. Police say an employee hurt their arm while bumping into something during the armed robbery.
A woman who is a former manager at the restaurant, didn’t want to be identified, but says she was there.
She quit after the second incident, citing safety concerns.
“I went through it twice and it was horrifying and terrifying,” she said.
The first time she says she looked up and saw a man with a gun, wearing a mask, walking into the store.
“Immediately, I just start screaming and I tell my employees to run! Run! He got a gun!” she recalled.
She says she ended up in a bathroom with a coworker until it was safe to press the panic button behind the counter. While police say no one was hurt, others didn’t make it away from the suspect, including a teenager.
“He made the employees get on the floor. He had his gun drawn on a 17-year-old employee at the time,” she said.
On Sunday, she says she worked the closing shift and a masked robber came in and jumped over the counter. She recalls praying that God would take care of her family because she thought he was going to shoot her.
“I’m hiding behind this box behind storage and he points the gun, he says ‘you,’ he puts the gun to my head. He said ‘you come with me.’ I said please don’t hurt me, please don’t kill me,” she stated.
She says that night the robber got away with over a thousand dollars from the safe. Afterwards, she says she voiced some safety concerns to management, but wasn’t taken seriously, which is why she decided to tell her story.
“I brought it to his attention about the lights on the side. I brought it to his attention about locking the lobby early. I brought it to his attention about having security there. Everything is like basically we’re going to get to it,” she explained.
10 On Your Side spoke with the district manager, Troy Reeves, who says the safety of his employees is always first. He says he has called Dominion Energy to come fix the light pole that’s out by the restaurant three times, but nothing has been done.
Dominion Energy says the customer at that location has two watch lights on their property and they haven’t received any reports to get them fixed.
Dominion Energy officials also say the street light in front of the business was reported not working on January 13 and 20, but when they responded it was working.
They say they are going to send someone to check on the directional watch lights Monday evening.
Reeves also says he is working with corporate to see what can be done about staffing a security guard.
He believes it was an inside job.
Police have not said if the two robberies are believed to be connected.
Stay with WAVY News 10 on air and online for updates.
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