3 Robbers Caught on Store Camera
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Three men who brazenly robbed a Georgetown jewelry store and shot one of the shop's owners Sunday afternoon were recorded on the store's surveillance camera, D.C. police said yesterday.
Authorities released the videotape in hopes of catching the assailants. It showed a man in a white T-shirt walking into Georgetown Fine Jewelry and Art with a gun held high. He was followed by another man in a yellow shirt, who covered his face with a bandana. There also was a third man wearing a blue jacket and baseball cap pulled low over his eyes.
The tape showed the men smashing jewelry cases. At one point, one of the assailants walked outside to talk to a couple of window-shoppers. Cars and people passed the store, apparently oblivious to the crime taking place about 2 p.m. on the bustling retail strip in the 1200 block of Wisconsin Avenue NW.
Police said the men robbed store employees and shot one of the co-owners in the back. The surveillance camera did not capture the shooting, police said.
The 50-year-old man, whom police did not identify because he is considered a witness, was recovering yesterday, said one of his friends, Omid Shaffaat. "They got the bullet out," Shaffaat said. "He's in a lot of pain, but he's okay."
Police said that after leaving the store, the robbers went north on Wisconsin Avenue and then east on N Street, where they got into a white sedan and drove off.
Investigators sought the public's help and said they would especially like to find the couple who spoke with one of the assailants during the robbery. On the video, it did not appear that the couple knew a robbery was taking place.
"These men show more than a slight propensity for violence," said Capt. Michael E. Reese.
Yesterday, the store was closed, and many of the jewelry cases inside were empty.
The armed robbery was the fourth in as many months at a high-end jewelry store in Northwest Washington, police said.
"I don't recall seeing this many in a concentrated area," Reese said.
On May 11, Pampillonia Jewelers in the 1200 block of Connecticut Avenue was robbed. On July 15, Mervis Diamond Importers at 17th and K streets was held up. And last Thursday, Ludvi Gems in the 1300 block of Connecticut Avenue was robbed. No one was hurt in those robberies, which all took place before noon.
Police are looking into whether the four heists are connected. "We haven't made that determination," Reese said.
A manager at Pampillonia said yesterday that Sunday's holdup did not have many similarities to the one at his store.
The manager, who asked not to be identified by name because of safety concerns, said the three men who robbed his store were in and out in three minutes. They told everyone to lie down on the floor and said nobody would get hurt, he said.
"It was professional. They were in, they were organized," he said. "One guy was on a walkie-talkie thing in his ear and directed the other guys."
When the robbers left his store, they took the surveillance tape with them, the manager said.
Since May, he has been more security-conscious, he said.
"We're a little harder on letting people in," he said. "We take a harder look at them. Not everybody can come into this store."