The Great Zia Robbery

From Tempe Police Department Narrative Report, incident number 96-078889. Compiled by officer #10060 (Blair R. Wrigley):

Suspect #1: Hispanic male, approx. 19 yrs. old, 5'6", 140 lbs., short black hair. Wearing a blue ball cap, a white tee shirt under a green tee shirt, and blue jeans.

Suspect #2: Hispanic male, approx. 19 yrs. old, 5'9", 160 lbs., short black hair. Wearing a blue/green tee shirt and blue jeans.

Incident Report:
"On 5/31/96 at 0002 hrs I was dispatched to Zia Records at 105 W. University Tempe AZ in reference to a robbery that had just occurred. Upon arrival I contacted Mr. James Speed, who is an employee, and he told me the following information. On 5/30/96 at approx. 2358 hrs he was counting out the cash register drawer at the front counter at Zia Records. Two men came to the door and another employee (Mr. Arthur Cassidy) told the men that the store was closed. The two men said they would only be a minute and Mr. Cassidy let them in the store."

Arthur (19 yrs. old): Yeah, well, obviously I wish I hadn't done that. But I've let people make a quick purchase right at close before, and it hasn't been a problem. Anyway, I was up there cleaning the glass when these two Mexican kids walked up. I told them through the door, "We're closing," but one of 'em said, "It's okay, we'll be real quick." I thought that meant they knew exactly what they wanted. Which I guess they did.

"Both men came in the store and went down the first aisle. They pretended to shop for music and returned to the register a few minutes later. Mr. Speed said he looked up as suspect #1 approached him and saw the suspect pull his green shirt up over his mouth and nose. He then pulled the gun from his waistband and cycled the slide with his other hand."

Arthur: They were only in the store about a minute before the gun came out. I stopped working on the door and told them, "Okay, we're closed, so you're either going to have to buy something now or leave." That's when the one guy pulled his shirt over his face and started walking toward the counter. I thought he smelled something bad, and I was like, "What the hell is wrong with this guy?" Then he pulls out this huge gun and cocks it and kind of waves it around at everybody and starts mumbling, "Everybody get down."

I've seen all these movies where there's a robbery scene, and I always thought if we got robbed the guy would jump up on the counter and start screaming at everybody, but this guy was just muttering through his shirt. When he first pointed the gun at me, I was standing there with the Windex bottle in my hand pointed at him. It was a ridiculous situation. All of a sudden, this little kid with this huge gun has your life in his hands.

I think the second time he said "Get down," I did. I wasn't that scared. I've been having all these girl troubles the last couple of weeks, and I remember thinking, "Oh, what now, a bullet? Hey, can't be that much worse." But I remember when he pointed the gun back at our manager and said, "Give me all the money, motherfucker," I thought, "Oh, man, don't let anything bad happen here."

"Mr. Speed said he took the money from the cash drawer and the suspect gave him a tan plastic grocery style bag for him to put the money in. Suspect #2 had been standing near the front of the store watching outside while the robbery took place. Both suspects then left the store and were last seen running southbound on Maple. Mr. Speed said his best estimate of the cash stolen is $1,000. He described the handgun that suspect #1 had as a 'large, black, 45-semi auto.'

The next employee I contacted was Ms. Michelle Dewaelsche, and she told me the following information. She was cleaning the glass front counter when the suspects came into the store. She was kneeling down when the suspect with the gun came up to the counter. He pointed the gun at her head and said something, but she did not hear what he said. She got up and walked behind the counter as she was very afraid and thought the suspect might shoot her."

Michelle (22 yrs. old): I was ringing up the last customer right before they came in. I remember hearing Art tell them "We're closing," right as I started cleaning the counter. Then I heard something like "Give me the cash," and I looked up and he was standing above me with this big black gun. He saw me look up and pointed it at me. I think I said "Oh, my God" or something like that. I was scared to death. I've never had someone put a gun in my face before, not even just joking around.

I don't know if I was really thinking, but I didn't want to be that close to him, so I kind of crawled sideways to the end of the counter and around to where the manager was. Then I just sort of stayed down back there, and it felt a little better. I think what scared me was, I could see the gun was cocked when he stuck it at me, but I could also see his hands were shaking. He was scared, too, but he had the gun.

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