Who hasn't dreamed of being the hero by stopping a would-be robber in the act, am I right? Okay, maybe a stick-up is more likely a nightmare for most, but last night a Bellingham convenience store clerk facing a robber lived out the fantasy: He fought back, testing his mettle with a mop.
Starvin' Sam's store clerk Brandon Pollen was mopping the cashier's area at 9:45 pm last night when a man in blue sweatpants and a light shirt came into the store. According to police, the 5'6" man whipped out a knife and, hefting his 200 pound frame, jumped right over the counter landing next to Pollen.
Pollen was suddenly face to face with a man who hadn't even bothered to wear a mask. He had shaggy hair, a mustache, and he looked to be around 30 to 40 years old. Caught off-guard, the clerk used his mop to fight the robber, eventually managing to knock him to the floor.
Let us pause here for a second and reflect on the fact that Pollen fought back. Obviously his reaction isn't the norm. Not every teenager behind the counter wants to be a hero like Judge Reinhold's character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Bellingham Police Sgt. Jason Monson explains to KGMI why he thought this clerk acted differently:
A lot of these folks are working alone, by themselves, and I think their training, they're told to just hand over the money and not fight, but I think this guy was just so caught off guard and realized what was happening that he reacted quickly and I don't think he even had time to think about it.
These exceptions are well documented, thanks largely to the adoption of closed-circuit security cameras. For example:
In January a U.K. store clerk (pictured above) faced a similar situation, taking on not one but three masked men. Even though one wielding a two-foot machete, he scared them away with his trusty mop.
Closer to home, Dan's Belltown Grocery (a favorite for Seattle shoplifters) posted a video of a store clerk beating down a stubborn thief with a broom to equal effect, sweeping him off his feet and out the door.
With the rarity of Pollen's reaction in mind, let's get back to Starvin' Sam's: The two men wrestled their way around the counter and toward the door, knocking snacks everywhere and bouncing off the shelves. Pollen eventually got the man outside and then truly cleaned his clock until the robber, all wrung-out, gave up and ran away empty-handed.
Police arriving for mop-up duty brought a tracking dog to chase after the man but the K-9 never picked up the scent. Maybe it was all that bleach.