Family business downtown robbed at gunpoint Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2000

A Greenville business woman was robbed at gunpoint, and placed in immediate fear for her life, and that of her unborn child Tuesday evening, in downtown Greenville.

Debbie Petty, the 5 month pregnant wife of Randall Petty, manager of Petty's Appliances at 233 West Commerce Street was seated at the counter near the cash register when she had the fright of her life.

A black male with a dark complexion, wearing a ball cap low on his face, and what appeared to be a white tee shirt as a face mask stormed into the store from the Bolling Street entrance, hollering obscenities, and after producing a chrome colored handgun, racked the slide back, and pointed it in her face.

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The intruder then demanded that Petty open the cash register, yelling, "Give me the money!"

When she had difficulty opening the register, the robber became impatient, and she cried, "Just open it and take what you want, but please don't hurt me!"

Petty managed to get the register drawer open, and the suspect pulled the money tray out of it. Seeing that there was just a small amount of money, he yelled, "Now get the rest of it."

Petty kept insisting that there was no more money in the store, and the robber then lifted her purse and, turning it over, dumped its contents out onto the counter.

Again discouraged by the low amount of money, the suspect reached up to the wall and ripped the phone, cord and all out of the wall.

He then hollered to her, "Now get up from there and walk into the back!"

"Walking to the repair shop in the back, and fearful for her life, Debbie pleaded to the robber not to hurt her because she was pregnant," said Randall Petty, Debbie' husband and son of Clarence Petty, the founder of the 39 year old repair business.

"When she got into the back, he told her to Sit on that stool and don't get up!", Petty added.

"She again pleaded to him, sobbing, not to hurt her or her baby," Petty went on, "But he just pointed the gun at her stomach, yelling, Sit right there or I'll shoot you in the stomach!" , he continued.

A spokesman with the Greenville Police Department stated that between 2:30 and 2:40 p.m. a black male, approximately 5 ft. 8 inches in height and of medium build entered the business, and after robbing the victim, held her at gunpoint until such time as he left through the front half of the store, in an unknown direction.

A few minutes later, after she felt it was safe, Ms. Petty exited the store, went next door, and dialed E-911.

Police units responded immediately to the area, and performed an extensive canvas of the area, but the suspect could not be located.

"I want the people of this community to know that after 39 years in the same location, this is what it has come down to, being robbed in fear of your life, in your own little building," Petty said.

The investigation is continuing, and the Greenville Police Department is asking that anyone who might have information involving this incident please contact the Investigations Unit at: 382-7461.

Robbery in the first degree is a class A felony, and conviction is punishable by a sentence of 20 years to life imprisonment.