Pahrump area markets have been victim to a series of armed robberies the past month that have fortunately, as of this writing, not turned violent.
But if people are brazen enough to wave a gun around, police are concerned that a future robbery by these perpetrators might not end peacefully.
As reported in this paper, the first armed robbery happened Sept. 30 at the Horizon Market, 2030 Bell Vista Ave. The same store was hit again last Friday by someone wearing a similar orange mask worn in the first robbery.
In between these two heists, the Kentucky Fried Chicken on State Route 372 west of Highway 160 was hit the same night a second Horizon Market was robbed less than a mile away.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office is keeping the investigation close to the vest and not disclosing potential suspects. However, detectives have said they all seem to be related. A few businesses owners have told us that the police have been showing them pictures of potential suspects.
Nye County has its share of robberies, an average of one every two weeks according to the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics. The recent series of market robberies has local businesses on edge.
It has also started the online rumor mill. Early Wednesday a co-worker told me there was Internet chatter that another store was robbed the evening before. A check with the sheriff’s office and the store’s owner proved the rumor to be unfounded. However, it points to a deeper fear running through this community.
As anyone who has ever been involved with violence involving a gun, the memories and fear can stay with them for a long time.
I worked at the now closed Odyssey Records for six years after first arriving in Las Vegas in 1990. I covered the graveyard shift of the 24-hour music store, which was one of the top selling urban music stores for compact discs and cassette tapes on the west coast. Located on Las Vegas Boulevard a few blocks north of what is now the Stratosphere, I marvel that there were not more incidents involving our cash registers.
The vast majority of the crime was grab-and-runs, where the suspect or a group of suspects would load up on merchandise and head straight for the door. While the corporate overlords strongly encouraged the employees just to let them go, more than once I found myself at the receiving end of a trample while coworkers and I tried to block the door.
Looking back I have good stories, but I also now understand the stupidity of being in my 20’s thinking I’m shielded by the hubris of youth. Some coworkers did not fair so well. No one was ever shot or stabbed, but a few took pretty good beatings.
While I was fortunate to never have a gun put in my face, I knew it was time to find new employment after a gunfight broke out in the store parking lot while I was in the back offices. I will never forget the sounds of the “pop, pop, pop,” and coming out and seeing people in the store on the floor or squatting down.
I also remember someone running into the store and placing a gun by the registers. I can’t remember the details of what happened after that, but I will never forget everything slowing down and becoming vivid as the sounds of gunfire sent adrenaline through my body.
While the police are investigating these Pahrump robberies, it is important to remember that if the robbers are bold enough to wave a gun around they might be brave enough to use them. Let’s hope we don’t ever have to find out.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of videos online of store clerks around the country fighting back, sometimes to hilarious results. But criminals carrying weapons should not be confronted because we never know the full situation. The death of Joseph Robert Wilcox comes to mind.
Wilcox was carrying a concealed weapon when the two killers of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers entered the Walmart in Las Vegas. When one of the killers pulled out a gun and fired a shot, Wilcox went to confront him, only to be shot dead by the second killer. One of the killers was shot and killed by law enforcement not long after. The second shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
When dealing with potentially life-threatening situations, it is better to let law enforcement handle the situation. That’s why they are paid through our tax dollars. There was no way Wilcox could have known those two had just killed two police officers. Just as we don’t know what is motivating the recent series of robberies.
Let’s hope the police find them soon before someone gets hurt.
Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times. Find him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.