Suspects Force Robbery Victim to Push SUV to Gas Station (With Car) as Girlfriend Taken Hostage; Three Punks Robbed Nine at Gunpoint

Three hoodlums whose SUV ran out of gas during a June robbery forced one of their victims at gunpoint to use his car to push the vehicle to a gas station, police say.

Cops released surveillance photos today of one of the robbers with the hope of developing some leads in what a Phoenix police spokesman calls a "scary" case.

The incident began at about 4 a.m. on June 28 as clients and employees arrived at a methadone clinic at 15th Street and Washington. An older model, green SUV with a brown stripe rolled up suddenly, and one of the three men inside threatened the group of seven people with a revolver.

The armed man forced the victims to get on the ground, then demanded their money and other personal items, police say.

The scene soon grew even more tense. A couple in a brand-new car drove into the parking clinic's parking lot and were confronted by the trio of robbers. The thugs informed the driver they were taking his car.

Evidently a graduate of the College of Badass, the driver cussed at the robbers instead, says Phoenix police Sergeant Darren Burch.

The thugs switched to Plan B. They pulled the driver's woman passenger from the car and made her join the main group of hostages who were being covered by a gunman. One robber then climbed inside the car and pointed a gun at the driver, compelling him to use his vehicle to push the SUV, (steered by the third thug), to the Circle K at 16th Street and Washington.

As the video stills show, one of the suspects entered the Circle K and paid for the gasoline. But pair of hoods at the gas station didn't want to risk driving back to the scene of the crime, just in case the robbery had "gone to hell," Burch says.

They ordered the car's driver to go back and get their buddy, then drive him back to them.

With his girlfriend held hostage back at the methadone clinic, the driver had no choice but to obey, Burch says.

All three suspects remain at large.

With that many gun-toting robbers and a large group of victims, things could have been worse, Burch says: "We're lucky no one got hurt." If you know anything about this case or have seen the guy in the photos, police ask that you call Silent Witness at 480-948-6377, or toll free at 1-800-343-TIPS.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.