Robbery Highlights Problem With Cedar Rapids Ordinance

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By Larry Burkum

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Cedar Rapids police are trying to find the man behind an attempted armed robbery Thursday night at the Arby's on 1st Avenue Southeast.

Amid a struggle between the suspect and an employee, a gunshot went off but no one was hurt.

Now as police try to find the suspect, they say it's a case with a busy street to escape to, and no video to pick up clues.

Long after the dinner hour passed at the Arby's in the 1400 block of First Avenue SE and the work shifted from serving food to cleaning at close, two workers faced a shocking site.

"A lone individual came in - a black male - thin build, wearing a hoodie sweatshirt, bandana over his face and pants and entered the Arby's," said Sgt. Cristy Hamblin

And this is where a struggle followed. Arby's management would not comment but Cedar Rapids police say the suspect hit one employee in the face with a handgun and a shot was fired -- but the shot did not hit anyone.

A second worker was also in the store but the suspect then got away.

"That's the good thing and he left without any money," said Hamblin

Yet here is the challenge as police try to pinpoint the person who tried to hold up the restaurant. Even at 10:20 on a Thursday night, this stretch of 1st Avenue East can be quite busy, with cars coming and going. Plus, one element that investigators often need to zero in on a suspect -- video surveillance -- was not on the police report.

Twenty years ago, the Cedar Rapids city council required all business to have security cameras. Solving a 2010 knife-point abduction at a Cedar Rapids gas station has been credited to the surveillance video that gave specific information on the suspect involved.

Yet without the video element in Thursday's incident, police are asking for anyone who was in the area -- and had their eyes open.

"We hope somebody saw someone driving by, running out of the store, if they got into a car or left on foot and saw what direction he went," Hamblin said.

Police say anyone with information on the attempted armed robbery last night should call the Linn County Crimestoppers Unit at 1-800 - C-S CRIME.
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