Regular liquor store customer stages robbery that goes 'slapstick'
WILLMAR -- A regular customer at a local liquor store carried out a comical robbery Tuesday night along Litchfield Avenue Southwest. While purchasing a 40-ounce bottle of beer, the robber snatched around $500 in cash from the till then crashed to...
WILLMAR -- A regular customer at a local liquor store carried out a comical robbery Tuesday night along Litchfield Avenue Southwest.
While purchasing a 40-ounce bottle of beer, the robber snatched around $500 in cash from the till then crashed to the floor after slamming into a display while fleeing, breaking the 40-ounce. The robber, later identified as Esekiel Guy Fuentes, 24, was arrested early Wednesday morning after being identified on surveillance footage.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on formal charges today.
Fuentes frequented Gerry's Liquors along Litchfield Avenue -- the same store he allegedly robbed.
"He's a regular customer," said Sondra Villarreal.
Villarreal was working Tuesday night around 9 p.m. when Fuentes wandered into the store. She said he grabbed the 40-ounce bottle and came to the counter to pay, coming up about 25 cents short of the total.
Despite being a quarter short, Villarreal told Fuentes not to worry about it and opened the till.
Which is when the story took a twist.
Instead of leaving with his beer, Fuentes allegedly grabbed for the $20s. Villarreal said she tried to slam the till shut, but Fuentes still allegedly nabbed between $500 and $600. While fleeing, he tripped over a display of beer cases, crashed to the floor and broke his 40-ounce.
"We didn't expect that," Villarreal said. "At least he didn't do anything to me."
Officers from the Willmar Police Department used surveillance video and the aid of another employee at Gerry's to identify Fuentes. A warrant was issued and Fuentes was arrested around 4 a.m. at an apartment in downtown, according to a news release from the Willmar Police Department.
Police Capt. David Wyffels questioned what Fuentes was thinking, noting that he appeared to be drunk during the robbery.
"Why would you rip off a place if you're in there all the time," Wyffels said. "It was just opportunity."
The crime probably wouldn't have been committed if Fuentes was sober, Wyffels continued.
Officer Chad Nelson, who is heading the investigation, said none of the stolen money was recovered during Fuentes' arrest. However, .2 grams of a drug that preliminarily tested positive as cocaine was found in a Bible with Fuentes' name on it.
Even without the money, Wyffels was certain the right man had been arrested. Fuentes matched the man on the surveillance tapes and also had a trench coat that smelled like booze, he said. "We're on the right guy," he said.
Tuesday's robbery represents the third attempt this month at Gerry's Liquors. A window was broken Dec. 9, which triggered an alarm and two masked men were scared out of the store later in the day after seeing customers in the store. Villarreal has been on duty during each of the robbery attempts.
"Why does this always happen to me," she said with a laugh. Villarreal has worked at Gerry's for three months.
Fuentes was arrested on potential charges of simple robbery, theft, criminal damage to property and a controlled substance violation.