Police: Burger King robber possibly targeted nearby businesses

PINECREST, FLA. (WSVN) - Police are searching for a man who, they said, robbed a Burger King in Pinecrest at gunpoint and may also be responsible for at least two more similar robberies at nearby businesses.

According to Pinecrest Police, the subject entered the fast food restaurant, located at 13201 South Dixie Highway, Sunday, just before 6:30 p.m. He then made his way behind the register.

“One minute I’m up here. The next minute I’m not, and then the next thing you know, we’re getting robbed,” said an employee who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera.

The employee said the subject then aproached her. “He’s like, ‘No, this is for real.’ He says, ‘Give me all the money,'” she said. “He put the gun to my back.”

Surveillance video shows another employee running toward a back office as the robber, his face covered, followed behind her. “He told her, ‘Don’t run,’ and she ran for her life,” said the employee who spoke with 7News.

The security footage then shows the robber pointing a silver handgun at employees as he demanded all the money from the safe. “I could clearly see that it was a silver .38 revolver,” said the employee.

The employee then grabbed $794 out of the safe and handed it over to the robber. “The only thing going through my mind was, ‘My daughter is way more important than a couple of dollars,'” she said.

The employees then locked themselves in a freezer as the subject made his getaway.

Investigators said this is the latest in a string of brazen robberies that could be connected. “He carries a silver revolver, and he masks his face,” said Village of Pinecrest spokesperson Michelle Hammontree. “In each instance, he walks in with a gun and he demands money.”

On Nov. 24, employees at the Farm Stores convenience store at 12075 South Dixie Highway were targeted in a similar way by a man who was also wielding a silver handgun.

Three days later, a man fitting the same description and also armed with a silver handgun walked right up to the window at the Dairy Queen located at 8545 South Dixie Highway. Police said he demanded cash from the workers and got away with a couple of hundred dollars.

The owner of the Dairy Queen said the robber threatened to open fire. “[He said], ‘Give me the money. If not, pew, pew. I shoot you,'” said Jian Ping Lee. “[The employees] were scared. They grabbed it and gave it [to him].”

“We don’t want this to become more severe, because each time this happens, the criminal gets more brazen,” said Hammontree.

The Burger King employee said that she understands what may have been driving the robber. “I get it. It’s the holidays. People are desperate,” she said, “but at the same time, people have families. There’s people who are looking for them when they come home from work.”

Regardless of the gunman’s motivation, the employee said, the incident is forcing her to look at her job very differently. “Anything can happen, Like, it happened so quick, like you didn’t even expect it,” she said.

If you have any information on any of these robberies, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

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