The Star Grocery in Nelson was robbed on Friday night.
Owners Jian and Julie Situ told the Nelson Star the robbery occurred just after 9 p.m. when two people walked into the store, located at 1516 Crease Avenue in Rosemont, and up to the counter. Jian said the man and woman were dressed in black, their faces and hair were covered and both wore gloves.
“The man placed a black garbage bag on the counter and the woman stood in front of the cash register,” said Jian. “They didn’t say anything other than the man told me to give him the cigarettes and money.”
That’s when the man pulled a canister of pepper spray from behind his back and sprayed Jian in the face. Jian said he backed away. He couldn’t see clearly anymore and feared they might have a gun. The woman took the money out of the cash register which Jian estimates was $300 to $400, while the man took approximately 50 to 60 packs of cigarettes from the shelves he had stocked earlier that day. Then the man and woman left the store.
Jian’s wife Julie had left the store five minutes earlier and was upstairs when she heard a loud noise below. She heard her husband shout, “Call the police.” Julie came downstairs into the store to check on him but she couldn’t breathe because of the pepper spray still in the air.
Jian described the female suspect as very heavy, shorter than 5’6” and he believes she is in her 30s. The man was a bit taller than Situ, who is approximately 5’9”.
A witness to the event saw two “rotund” people walking down the street just uphill from the store who stopped underneath the street lamp and put hoods on their heads. It was spitting rain on and off at the time. One witness heard what sounded like a woman’s giggle.
When the pair walked into the Star Grocery parking lot, a witness noticed their hoodies were pulled very tight around their faces and something didn’t feel right. Less than two minutes later the same people exited the store, sauntering faster up the street the way they came from; the taller person was holding a plastic garbage bag with something in it.
“The size they were, they weren’t going anywhere fast, so in retrospect they may have had a vehicle parked further up the street,” said a witness.
Witnesses heard Jian yelling, “Call the police, call the police,” and saw him come out of the store rubbing his eyes.
The Nelson Police Department received several calls and witnesses said officers were on the scene very soon.
Police blocked the road coming from the store and patrolled the area with a spot light. The fire department and ambulance responded as well. They flushed Jian’s eyes and firefighters set up a very large fan for 45 minutes to air out the store.
Jian said he was doing well other than he couldn’t sleep as his skin felt hot through the night. He is grateful that he is okay. Jian and his wife opened their store at 8:30 this morning as per their regular Saturday hours.
According to a Nelson Police Department press release, the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with any information about this crime is encouraged to contact the NPD at 250-354-3919 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.