An ex-Marine in his 40s who was part of Operation Desert Storm thought he was going to die during the armed robbery of a 7-Eleven store last week.
Around 9:50 p.m. Oct. 24, the ex-Marine walked into the 7-Eleven at 9860 S. Kedzie Ave. to buy a gallon of milk.
Accompanying him inside was another man. After exchanging admiring words about the man’s car, the two strangers parted ways inside the store to go about their business.
When the former Marine turned around, he saw a woman with a young child hunched down near the floor. His first impression was that she was reprimanding her child for pulling candy off the bottom shelf.
Then he heard her say: “Please don’t shoot my baby.”
Armed Robber Shoves Gun in Ex-Marine's Face
As he had taken a couple of steps forward, the ex-Marine said he had a gun shoved into his face by a man clad in black and wearing a ski mask.
“I was pissed. I was fuming,” the former Marine said. “I had a gun in my face and thought I was going to die because some gutless turd is robbing a 7-Eleven.”
A commotion at the front of the store drew the robber’s attention back to the cash register.
I stood for second watching and felt I had to something to help the lady and her kid,” he said. “I ducked down and went to the back of the store, looking for a snow brush, a stick, something that I could knock the guy out with, but there was nothing.”
Meanwhile, the stranger with whom he had exchanged pleasantries with on the way into the store was standing humming in front of the pop cooler, oblivious to what was happening at the cash register. The stranger started walking toward the front of the store.
“I grabbed him by the shoulders and said, ‘c’mon, the store is getting robbed. We’re going out the back door,’” the ex-Marine said.
Both men escaped out the back of the store. Because he had left his cell phone in his car, the former Marine ran to a nearby house for help and began banging on the door. No one answered, so he ran to a second, well-lit house next door.
The robber was coming down 99th Street when he saw the ex-Marine leaving the porch of the second house. The ex-Marine ran to the backyard, when he discovered the stranger from the store hiding there.
“I was telling him not to hide there because the robber was coming when a woman came out of the hosue and asked me what I was doing,” the ex-Marine said. “I was trying to shush her and tell her there was a guy with a gun out front.”
He later learned that the woman had called police because she thought he was a prowler.
The ex-Marine confronted the robber again between the two houses. The alleged robber shoved the gun into his face a second time.
“He asked: ‘what are you going to do,’” the former Marine said. “I told him, ‘you got the gun.’ He just put the gun at his side and started walking toward 99th Street.
“After he walked out of my sight, I looked down 99th Street and he was gone,” the ex-Marine said. “He must have been picked up at that point.”
Robber Announced Holdup
The ex-Marine returned to 7-Eleven to see if the others were all right. By then, Evergreen Park police had arrived.
“I wanted to talk to the police and give the best description I could,” he said.
The suspected robber was wearing a black jacket, jeans and gloves, and had a black covering on his face, the ex-Marine said.
Evergreen Park police said the suspect was wearing a scarf wrapped around his face, although the ex-Marine remembers it as a ski mask.
“Judging from the way he moved, he was a young cat, between 25 and 30,” the ex-Marine said.
A store employee told police that the robber walked into the store and yelled that it was a holdup.
A customer who had taken out his wallet to pay the employee, left it on the counter when he instinctively laid face down on the floor, police said. The wallet was gone when the customer got back up.
The robber got away with $100 cash. The former Marine doesn’t remember a fifth customer being in the store, “because I was in combat focus.”
Suspect Was 'Aggressive'
The ex-Marine also recalls hearing the robber charge the weapon, before pointing the gun at the store employee.
“He was definitely aggressive when he started the robbery,” he said. “When he approached the cashier he charged the weapon and chambered the round. When you pull the slide back, it automatically pulls the trigger back.
“It’s a hair trigger. All it takes is a hiccup,” he said. “When he chambered the gun, I knew it was a dangerous situation. The gun was more dangerous than it was 30 seconds before.”
Not only was the ex-Marine able to provide a physical description of the suspect, he was also able to give a detailed description of the gun.
“The detective said that a lot of time perps will use the same gun over and over again,” the former Marine said. “The description of the weapon was almost as good as a description of criminal.”
Evergreen Park Police don’t know if last week’s robbery is related to another 7-Eleven store robbery that took place in Mt. Greenwood on Sept. 29.
In the September robbery, the suspect is said to have fired the gun as he was leaving the store. Chicago Police declined at that time to give a description of the suspect.