A man wearing a black ski mask, camouflage jacket and pants stormed the Bayview Valero gas station Wednesday night and forced the store’s clerk to hand him $500.
The clerk was not seriously injured by the armed robber, though the Island County Sheriff’s Office reported the suspect jabbed the victim with the barrel of the weapon, leaving an impression in her skin that matches the diameter of a shotgun barrel.
“Endangering somebody’s life for anything doesn’t make any sense for anything,” said detective Ed Wallace.
Security footage from the store shows the masked man, believed to be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet tall with a thin build, pointing a pump-action shotgun at the clerk, who is not visible in the footage. The sheriff’s office reported the suspect had gloves on during the robbery, which lasted about two minutes.
Wallace said the suspect is believed to have left the area driving a white vehicle, possibly a Mitsubishi.
“We know there’s a white vehicle involved, but we can’t tell what it is from the video,” Wallace said.
As of Friday morning, the suspect remained at large and the sheriff’s office did not have anyone in custody.
“At this point, we’re looking into a couple of tips we’ve received, but nothing firm right now,” Wallace said.
Armed robbery is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and carries a $10,000 fine. Any possible aggravating circumstances such as prior convictions could lead to more jail time for the suspect, if found and convicted.
On Wednesday night following the armed robbery, Island County Sheriff’s deputies searched the South End. A pair of deputies were posted at the Clinton Ferry Terminal in case the suspect tried to get off the island that way. Wallace said the sheriff’s office did not have the staffing to station other officers at the other Whidbey Island exits: the Coupeville ferry terminal and the Deception Pass Bridge.
The video shows the clerk calmly walking to the door once the suspect ran out and locking the doors.
A nearby business owner was alarmed by the violent crime. Neil Colburn, owner of Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe, said his wife Candy Culver was closing the restaurant around the time of the robbery. Neither of them saw anything related to the crime, but the notion that a holdup could happen just across the parking lot surprised Colburn.
“It makes us certainly nervous,” Colburn said. “Armed robbery’s pretty serious.”
“It makes me want to go out and get a gun for the first time since the service.”
Sheriff Mark Brown said his office had no reason to suspect the robbery was related to the string of burglaries on South Whidbey.
“We don’t have any information that that’s the case,” he said.