Masked armed robber wanted

LEESBURG — A gunman went on the run after threatening a clerk and a manager in a Dollar Store during a robbery at 8:50 p.m. Friday night, said a Lee County Sheriff’s Office official.

“Deputies arrived at the Dollar General store about 4 minutes after the clerk and the manager called the sheriff’s office,” said Sheriff Reggie Rachals. “The suspect left on foot north on Philema Road before the deputies arrived.”

The robber was described as a black man between 15 and 25 years old, dressed in a dark, probably black hoodie and saggy, dark pants. He had on a black mask similar to a ski mask and carried a long gun.

“It could have been a rifle or a shotgun,” Rachals said.

According to Rachals, the gunman lunged through the store’s front doors throwing them open, brandishing his weapon and catching the clerk and two customers by surprise. Rachels added, “He put the gun in the clerk’s face and said ‘you give me this money or else.’ ”

The two customers shut down with shock, Rachals said. The clerk, Pamela Barnes, told the gunman she couldn’t open the register or the safe. The manager heard the commotion, came into the checkout area and had the gun pointed at him, Rachals added.

Before the manager, Michael Bryant, could open the safe, Barnes jumped on the gunman’s back to grab him, Rachals said. Throwing Barnes to the floor the gunman again pointed the weapon at her, he said.

In the struggle, no shots were fired, but the gunman grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash from the store, Rachals said. He did not recommend anyone to do what Barnes did in a similar situation. Barnes was lucky her only injury was a welt on her back from the fall to the floor, he said.

Deputies would like anyone who might have seen anything near the 1775 S. Philema Road Dollar Store before or after the robbery to call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 759-6012.