Two men robbed a University Drive business at gunpoint Tuesday evening. No one was injured in the incident.
Five Duke students—all members of The Chronicle’s staff—were in Local Yogurt at approximately 7:25 p.m. when two masked men entered the shop and demanded money. Local Yogurt Owner Ted Domville and six other patrons, including two young children, were in the store at the time.
“[The first man] pointed the gun over the counter and said, ‘Give me the money.’” Domville said. “I went over to the register but he seemed to think things were going too slow, so he reached across [the counter], grabbed the money from my hand and took off.”
Both men were dressed in dark colors and wearing black ski masks. Domville described the men as approximately 5’8” and of normal build.
The first man entered the store carrying a small gun, similar to a revolver, said Chronicle staff writer Ciaran O’Connor, a freshman who was in the store during the robbery. The man briefly waved the gun in the air before taking a shot at the ceiling. The store’s patrons promptly dropped to the floor, protecting the two children, O’Connor added.
The men took off with “at least a couple hundred dollars” from the register, Domville said.
“They were in a hurry. I didn’t even get through handling all the bills [in the register] and he just took what I had in my hand,” Domville said. “The whole thing happened in less than 30 seconds.”
Meanwhile, the second man swept the customers of visible purses and wallets, O’Connor noted.
“They definitely knew what they were doing and planned it and had the car running,” he said. “It was a well executed robbery—they got what they wanted and no one saw their car.”
Chronicle staff writer Jessica Chang, a freshman, was robbed of her laptop and wallet in the incident after a brief struggle with the robber to keep her belongings.
“I heard the gun shot and we all ran next to the counter, we were all huddled there and when they were leaving, one of the guys came and grabbed my bag from me,” Chang said. “It was all just really surreal—I couldn’t even believe that it had happened.”
Durham Police responded within five minutes of the incident and patrolled the area until the store closed at 10 p.m., Domville said.
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But the Local Yogurt incident was not the only one Tuesday evening. A similar robbery was reported at about 8 p.m. at a gas station located on Sedwick Road—7 miles down the road from Local Yogurt.
Although police have not been able to confirm that the two incidents are linked, both occurred within a small time frame early in the evening and involved business patrons, said Sgt. Evans of Durham Police Department, who was DPD’s watch commander Tuesday night.
“Usually with robberies like this, they don’t usually mess with customers. But in this case, they did,” Evans said. “Eight p.m. is a little early for a robber usually—too many people out and about.”
Still, the area around Local Yogurt is generally safe and sees few problems, Evans said.
The business opened in May. But as business slows in colder months, a frozen yogurt shop may not have been the ideal store to rob, Domville said.
“But if you’re in business long enough, no matter the industry, there’s a chance for this to happen, especially in a down economy and the holidays,” he said. “The thing to do is to keep cool and keep the people involved safe. There’s nothing anybody could’ve done differently to have changed the situation.”