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RFPD investigates gas station robbery

March 13, 2008

Police are investigating an armed robbery that occurred at the BP Amoco Station on Paulson Road just before 9 p.m. Saturday.

According to a police report, two men dressed in black clothing, black stocking caps and bandannas entered the gas station at 8:40 p.m. Anthony Fox, a UWRF student and BP employee, was the only person working at the time.

“I didn’t pay attention to them at first,” Fox, who was reading a magazine in the empty store said. “Then I heard a pop, and looked up to see these two guys standing there, staring at me.”

Fox said one of the men was holding a black handgun, the other a very large knife. Without a word, the robbers placed a note on the counter that said, “Money in the drawer – 30 seconds.”

“It’s so scary to see that happen to you,” he said. “You never know how you’re going react. There’s no logic whatsoever. It’s all instinct.”

Fox quickly handed over the register’s contents and the suspects fled on foot, cash in hand. A witness pulled in as the two were leaving to find Fox in a panic.

“He thought they must have hit [Fox] over the head because he was so shook up,” said Sgt. Jeff Linehan of the River Falls Police Department.

Fox left the store briefly while the witness called police, returning when he noticed squad cars on their way to the scene. Sgt. Linehan, who spoke with Fox shortly afterwards, said his behavior was similar to someone in shock.

Fox’s co-worker, Paul Borofka-Webb, said the robbery, which was the first in his three years working at the BP, has made him more nervous about his job, but he doesn’t expect it to affect his performance.

“I’ll definitely be more cautious. But there’s not much more I can do about it,” he said.

As of Tuesday, police had not named any suspects.

According to Fox, security cameras were not recording during the robbery, which could slow this process.

Sandy Balcerek, who manages both the Paulson Road station and the BP Amoco on North Main Street., declined to comment on the case. Fox said the store is in the process of replacing its cameras.

Saturday’s incident was the first reported robbery at a River Falls business since October when, on two occasions, a man threatened employees at Freeman Drug on Main Street with a bottle of gasoline. The suspect was arrested and prosecuted.

River Falls Police have encouraged anyone with information on Saturday’s robbery to inform the station directly or call the area Crime Stoppers line at 1-800-303-8477.