Dallas police Friday linked a sting of armed robberies in three North Texas cities to the suspects in a Friday morning robbery at a Tom Thumb store in far North Dallas.
One suspect was in custody and another on the run after the holdup near the intersection of North Preston Road at Belt Line Road.
About 5:30 a.m. Dallas police officers arrived to find two armed men walking out of the building. One man was arrested, but the second ran back into the store.
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As the first one tried to escape he dropped a gun that was later recovered from a trash can in front of the pet store next to Tom Thumb.
Police helped nine employees leave the store. Two were injured. The SWAT Team entered to search for the second suspect but found no one inside.
"Therefore we believe we have one suspect at large at this time," said Deputy Dallas Police Chief Albert Martinez.
Later in the day, police confirmed another robbery Wednesday of a Dallas Tom Thumb at 10455 North Central Expressway was believed to be connected to the same suspects. Robberies in Grapevine and Denton were also linked to the men. Police were also investigating whether the same men robbed construction workers at a Golden Corral Restaurant on Forest Lane in Dallas before midnight, about six hours before the Preston Road crime.
Dallas police reported a 30 percent increase in armed robbery so far this year, but Michael Doan who owns the pet store beside the Preston Road Tom Thumb, said violent crime in his part of Dallas is rare.
"And so to see it spill this far north, and to be so brazen as to go into a grocery store at 5:30 in the morning, that is concerning," Doan said.
He said his workers normally arrive around the same time as the Tom Thumb opens at 6 a.m. to tend to animals boarded at the pet store.
"Early in the morning is now on the radar for us to be paying attention," Doan said.
His wife Sherry Redwine spoke with the police officers about the robberies.
"They were worried that it might result in injury or fatality at some point so they were glad that they got the one guy," she said.
Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall recently announced a task force has been formed to help combat the rise in armed robbery. The task force is working with surrounding cities to solve cases.
"It only makes common sense that we would work together in trying to solve crimes that are taking place in this city," Hall said Friday.
Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman represents the area where the Friday Tom Thumb robbery occurred. He praised the task force approach and the fast police response Friday morning.
"Fortunately the police were here right away. They were able to catch one of the suspects and clear the employees out of the store and respond really quickly," Kleinman said.
The councilman and the neighbors said the location and the time of the early morning robbery shows that people should be aware of their surrounding everywhere, at all times.
"And always, just anything suspicious, just call 911. Just call us," Kleinman said.
The suspect at large was described by police only as a man wearing all black clothes.