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Fireworks store employee recovering following robbery scuffle

The owner of Area 51 Fireworks said he’s taking steps to prevent a reoccurrence of Halloween night’s robbery that sent one employee to the hospital.

Casey Steinhart said both employees are recovering from the ordeal and he’s relieved law enforcement was able to apprehend the suspects, identified as Jacob Porter, 24, and Cassandra Port, 28.

“We want to make it safer for the employees here,” he said on Tuesday. “They are going to go through training again about what to do and what not to do. The employee was able to get out and she was the one who made the call to police and pulled the alarm. Fortunately, everyone is doing fine.”

Porter was arrested shortly after the armed robbery, and Port was arrested in Henderson on Monday night. Steinhart had offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to Port’s arrest shortly before she was picked up.

Nye County dispatch received the call of an armed robbery in progress, after one of the store clerks reported a male and a female entered the store wearing disguises and held her at gunpoint.

According to the arrest report, the duo got behind the counter and removed the cash inside the register.

The store clerk reported the suspects then forced her to the back of the store at gunpoint where a second employee confronted the male suspect and a physical altercation took place.

Steinhart noted that a male employee who was also in the back was struck in the head by the female accomplice.

“He took down the suspect and she came in behind him and hit him in the head and then they ran,” he said. “It wasn’t like she knocked him out or anything.”

Steinhart said the building’s video surveillance clearly captured what occurred just before 9 p.m. on Halloween, which helped deputies capture Porter within minutes of the robbery.

“The police were able to see the video to get an identification on the suspects,” he said. “They were terrific and they were here very quickly and apprehended him right away. The female was found in Henderson. We’re thinking of putting more signs around indicating that there are surveillance video cameras on the premises and our lighting is pretty good.”

Sheriff’s deputies said Port is a former employee of the business and had intimate knowledge of working the cash register.

Also noted was the fact that relatives of Port helped deputies with their investigation.

Family members described her clothing on that day, which appeared to be consistent with the clothing worn by the female on video surveillance.

“Store management confirmed that Ms. Port would be familiar with the necessary keystroke combination to open the cash register,” according to the arrest report. “During the course of the investigation, Ms. Port’s brother reported that he was missing a Co2 BB gun within the last 10 days from his room which he positively identified as the gun found at the store.”

A mere 11 minutes after receiving the dispatch, deputies located Porter a short distance from the business, fleeing toward Pahrump Valley Boulevard, then toward the library on East Street.

“The deputy located the male suspect running through the desert northbound away from the store and attempted to detain him for investigation purposes,” the report stated. “The male resisted by refusing to comply with orders until he was eventually apprehended. The investigation revealed approximately $267 was taken from the cash register. Further investigation revealed that Mr. Porter’s current girlfriend is Cassandra Port, who was well known to the investigators in this case.”

Deputies are crediting the videotape with helping to track down a mask, gloves and shirt worn by Porter during the robbery.

The items were found in a nearby dumpster along with a plastic bag, which the suspects took to place the stolen loot into, according to deputies.

Steinhart, meanwhile, warned that attempting such an action is not worth the risk.

“The message is, we don’t carry a lot of cash in the register and they don’t have keys to the offices,” he said. “It’s just a matter of making everyone aware and keeping their eyes open. Fortunately, when it gets dark we never have anyone in here by themselves as a safety precaution.”

The clerk who challenged the suspects sustained a laceration to his head requiring several stitches. Though he’s expected to recover, it’s unknown whether or not there will be a long-term effect to the clerk’s health as a result of the injury according to deputies.

Porter has been preliminarily charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, battery with substantial bodily harm, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary, petit larceny and conspiracy to commit petit larceny, resisting a public officer, and destruction of evidence. He was held on $55,000 bail.

Port is being held in Henderson City Jail on $3,000 bail. She is scheduled to appear in Henderson Justice Court on Tuesday.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @sharrispvt.

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