Suspect sought in Sunmart shootingPolice are still looking for a man who shot an employee Sunday night while robbing a north-side grocery store, a shooting a police spokesman said was “very, very rare.”
By: By Mike Nowatzki , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Police are still looking for a man who shot an employee Sunday night while robbing a north-side grocery store, a shooting a police spokesman said was “very, very rare.”
The Sunmart Foods employee was shot twice during an armed robbery late Sunday at the grocery store at 724 N. University Drive,
The employee was taken to Sanford Medical Center. His condition wasn’t released, but Lt. Joel Vettel said police were able to communicate with him.
The male suspect fled on foot and remained at large Monday. Vettel said police had a description of the suspect, but it wasn’t released to the public.
“We don’t think there’s a benefit to the investigation to release it at this point, but that might change in the next 24 hours,” he said. “We want to exhaust a few more leads before we put it out to the public.”
Police responded to the store at about 11 p.m. The victim and another employee were inside at closing time when the suspect approached the victim and made demands, Vettel said.
The victim was shot twice during a struggle with the suspect, he said.
No customers were inside the store at the time.
Police are reviewing surveillance video, Vettel said.
Vettel said armed robberies in which someone gets shot are “very, very rare” in Fargo.
“In fact, I can’t remember somebody in my career where we’ve actually had an armed robbery where a firearm was used and somebody was hurt as a result of that incident,” he said.
While stressing that he wasn’t blaming the victim, Vettel said police recommend that anyone who is threatened with a gun by someone demanding money or property comply with the robber’s demands.
“We do what we can to remind people that it’s not worth their life and it’s not worth their safety,” he said.
The Sunmart store is the only large grocery store near Fargo’s downtown area. Stephanie Berg, who lives about 10 blocks away from the store, was getting groceries on her lunch break Monday and hadn’t heard about the shooting.
“That just is crazy,” she said. “But then, there’s been a lot of armed robberies lately.”
Sunday’s stickup is the latest in a string of armed robberies in the Fargo area over the past six weeks. Businesses recently hit include the Giant Panda restaurant in Fargo on Aug. 17; Gordy’s Travel Plaza in Mapleton on Aug. 20; and Rayon’s Market in south Fargo on Sept. 11.
Authorities arrested juveniles in connection with all three of those cases. Police have asked Cass County prosecutors to request that the teens be tried in adult court.
A string of four robberies last January and February prompted Fargo police to call the numbers “concerning,” especially coming off a 2011 in which Fargo recorded 18 armed robberies, up from 11 each year in 2010 and 2009.
Last November, police began distributing robbery prevention information to convenience stores, liquor stores, hotels and other likely targets.
“If we see some sort of pattern, we’ll certainly do that again,” Vettel said.
Statistics on the number of armed robberies so far this year and how it compares with this time last year weren’t immediately available, Vettel said.
Berg, who has lived in north Fargo’s Roosevelt Neighborhood for nearly 12 years, said she, her husband and their five children frequent the Sunmart store “at all hours of the day and night” because they live so close. She said that while the store sometimes seems inadequately staffed, “I’ve never felt unsafe coming here.”
A store manager referred questions to Maria Gallegos, senior marketing director for Minneapolis-based Nash Finch Co., which owns Sunmart grocery stores.
In a written statement, Gallegos said Nash Finch is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation and that the safety of employees and customers is the company’s No. 1 priority.
“Our concern now is for the welfare of our Associate (the shooting victim) and the continued safety of all Associates and customers,” she said in the statement.