Tuesday night, Derry Township Police brought two people into custody after they robbed numerous stores throughout Central Pennsylvania, using a hammer as their weapon.
Luckily, in all the robberies, no one was hurt.
Police say the robber used a hammer like you would find in a hardware store to rob the stores. But when the suspect went to the store on Tuesday, the employees were ready.
It was just before 6 p.m. when Carly Clisham called her employee to see how the night was going at Merle Norman Cosmetics.
“We were just chatting and I heard the bell,” stated Clisham, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics.
That sound was a wanted robber walking into the store.
“There was just silence, then all of the sudden, there was yelling, “I’m being robbed, call 911, I’m being robbed, call 911, and I could hear the urgency in her voice and she was scared to death,” Clisham explained.
And for good reason.
In the past 2 weeks, a man carrying a hammer as a weapon has robbed six different stores in Palmyra, Campbelltown, Mount Joy Township, and three stores in Derry Township.
One of the robberies in Derry Township was another Merle Norman Cosmetics store, and about a half hour before the robbery in Lower Paxton Township, the Hershey store called to warn the nearby store.
“Because of all the recent robberies, the store was ready with bug spray and a baseball bat, but luckily, they didn’t have to use either,” Clisham told us.
The robber and his driver were stopped by police about 20 minutes later after an off-duty police officer saw them speed out of the parking lot.
The robber was identified as 21-year-old Gage Washington, and his accomplice was identified as 20-year-old Erin Johnson.
Derry Township Police Chief, Patrick O’Rourke spent eight years in undercover narcotics, and says this fits the profile of someone who is addicted to drugs.
“When you have a series of robberies close to each other geographically, and with such frequency, it’s indicative of someone whose drug dependent and somebody that’s generally living in your back yard,” O’Rourke addressed.
Both Washington and Johnson are in Dauphin County Prison awaiting further charges.
“She just though really quickly on her feet, she took notice to everything that he was wearing, down to the detail of what was covering his face,” Clisham said about her employee.
Police are glad this man is of the streets before one of the robberies turned violent.