POSTED: Monday, February 7, 2011 - 8:02am
UPDATED: Monday, February 7, 2011 - 8:02am
Bizarre gas station robbery caught on camera.
John Henry said he's been robbed four times in the five years he's owned a Shell station in West Seattle, Washington.
But never, he said, by someone as well-mannered as the man that walked into his convenience store around 11:23 a.m. Saturday to buy a cup of coffee.
"He was very polite guy," said Henry.
At least, that's what it seemed like until the end of the transaction, when John Henry opened his cash register and politeness pulled a gun out of his pocket and pointed it at him.
Surveillance cameras captured the whole exchange.
"Can you do me a favor?" the man asks.
"Yes?" Henry responds.
"Can you empty the till and put it right here?"
"What do you mean?" says Henry, who appears somewhat caught off guard.
"Empty the till. I'm robbing you, sir," the man says.
"Are you sure?" Henry asks.
"Yes," says the man. "I'm robbing the place."
Henry described the robber as a man in his late 50s to early 60s, about six feet tall, driving a red compact car.
Henry said he tried to keep the man talking, knowing his cameras were capturing the man's face and voice.
He asked the reluctant robber why he was doing this.
What happened next, Henry said, evoked a different emotion: pity.
"I really am sorry to have to do this, but I've got kids," says the man in the video, pointing the handgun in his right hand.
"How about I give you $40 and this is it?" Henry replies.
"Well, I can't do that sir," the suspect said. "I've got rent to pay, and bills, and the kids need to eat."
Henry said in his three previous robberies, all the suspects were caught and jailed within a week.
He also said the man left fingerprints on the counter, and that King County Sheriff's deputies are already on the case.
"He didn't think right. If you want money, you can stand on the street... and have a sign that says 'I need help,'" Henry said. "You will get some money. But doing this will put you in prison and you will not be able to help your family."
The end of the video appears as cordial as the beginning, when Henry hands the man about $300, more than he usually carries in the store, he said.
"Thank you very much, and I appreciate it, and I really am sorry," said the robber. "And if I ever get back on my feet again, sir, I'll bring it back."
Henry capped the whole exchange with a politeness he normally reserves for paying customers.
"God be with you, man," he says in the video.
Replies the man before he walks out the door: "Thank you very much, and with you too."