Suspect impersonated officer, tied up employees, stole guns from pawn shop

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Investigators respond to a robbery at Capital Pawn in LaBelle, where they say robbers stole guns from the shop on Hickpochee Avenue Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is leading the investigation of a robbery at Capital Pawn on Hickpochee Avenue in LaBelle Wednesday, where a robber got away with stolen guns and other possible items from the shop.

Hendry County Sheriff’s Office originally responded to the scene in response to the robbery after a call was received around 9:20 a.m. The investigation has since also become a federal case with ATF involved.

According to HCSO, an unknown white or Hispanic male dressed in law enforcement apparel entered the store impersonating a law enforcement officer. The suspect was described as wearing a law enforcement style uniform with a badge and holster.

It’s not clear if the suspect was armed when initially entering the pawn shop.

“After I heard what happened, it was kind of scary,” Timirra Carter said. “It was like, I thought somebody was making it up.”

The nearby school Carter’s child attends went on lockdown because of the robbery, and for a while, she didn’t know what was going on.

“I was worried because, usually, you get a lockdown when somebody escapes, somebody’s a predator,” Carter said. “But I mean, it was like right here, close.”

Once inside the store, the suspect began giving orders to employees and patrons before tying them up. After everyone was secured, the suspect took items from the store before getting away from scene with an undisclosed amount of stolen items.

There were no reports of injuries due to the robbery.

HCSO and ATF are investigating together to track down the suspect and make an arrest.

“We do not believe the public is in any harm,” said Sheriff Steve Whidden in the HCSO press release. “Upon receiving this call for assistance, elementary schools were placed on lockdown as a safety precaution.”

Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist, says all of the serial numbers are now flagged in a national database.

“If any law enforcement officer anywhere in the United States comes across one of these firearms, they’ll be able to tie it back to this case,” Kolko said.

Kolko says investigators will look at all available surveillance video, both from the pawn shop and other nearby locations, and they’ll learn what they can from witnesses and victims for any clues about who the suspect is.

“The likelihood that this person walked in and impersonated a police officer who had never been in there before, I would find that difficult to believe,” Kolko said.

An update is expected from ATF Thursday morning on this investigation.

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