By Darrell Todd Maurina
North Plains Cinema manager Abby Parrish said he has taken steps to improve security since two gunmen robbed the movie theater Tuesday night.
He said he doesn’t want to disclose those steps, but doesn’t believe the theater was unsafe to begin with.
“It’s as safe a place as anywhere; it’s the first robbery in my 20 years here,” Parrish said. “We’ve had nothing like this at the business in Clovis.”
According to police reports, two men entered the lobby of the theater at 10:45 p.m., brandished a gun, and ordered an 18-year-old clerk to turn over the money from the ticket drawer’s cash counter. The $625 stolen is the highest reported amount of money since in a string of what police believe are four related armed robberies that began on June 14.
Clovis police say they are gaining ground on two men believed to be responsible.
“Right now we have two investigators who are working on the case; that’s one more than usual on a case unless it’s a homicide,” said Capt. Dan Blair of the Clovis Police Department. “I think with each one of these that we’ve had, we gain a little bit more information so there are different leads we are following.”
Blair said investigators are currently working to produce a composite sketch. Described by witnesses as two Hispanic males in their 20s, the men also struck once June 14 and twice June 19.
In each case, one of the two men pointed a handgun at the victims, demanded money, and fled the area on foot. Earlier cases involved Allsup’s at the corner of Grand and Prince, McDonald’s at Mabry and Schepps, and Kelly’s Bar and Grill.
The two men are described as between 5-1/2 and 6 feet tall, with one man between 140 and 150 pounds and the other a bit heavier, weighing 160 to 180 pounds. The men wore bandanas over their faces.
Blair said he is perplexed by the boldness of the suspects.
“I don’t know how you would have prevented some of these,” Blair said. “Who would have thought someone would walk up to people in a lighted parking lot at McDonald’s?”
Blair said the men’s willingness to use guns and approach groups of victims in lighted spaces is a warning that potential victims need to know the robbers mean business.
“You have people out there with weapons, and we don’t need buried heroes,” Blair said. “Let us deal with it, that’s our job.”
“If you are approached and someone is armed with a weapon, cooperate,” Blair said. “Anytime someone is armed, we as a department are concerned because they are using a very high level of force to get what they want. Pointing a gun at someone is about as high as you can go.”
Blair said police need community cooperation to find the robbers.
“One of the biggest things we see anymore is people not wanting to get involved,” Blair said. “People hear and see things that happen, people need to be curious about what’s going on, people need to know their neighbors.
“We cannot do our job without the public’s help; people have to get involved,” Blair said.
Blair said anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 763-7000 or the Clovis Police Department at 769-1921. Businesses interested in training their employees in crime prevention may call Blair directly to arrange training sessions.
“I think that if anybody knows — and I’m sure there is someone who knows — who these individuals are, they need to do their duty and give us a phone call,” Blair said.