Drug store armed robber at large

ESCANABA – Police are on the lookout for an armed suspect who robbed a drug store in downtown Escanaba then fled the scene Wednesday afternoon. No one was injured.

Escanaba Public Safety Department officers were dispatched at 2:09 p.m. to People’s Drug Store at 1208 Ludington St. where an armed gunman was reported to be robbing the business, said Capt. Jamie Segorski.

A gun was used to threaten several employees who were inside the store at the time, Segorski said in a telephone interview this morning.

“An unknown male entered the store and used a firearm to procure drugs,” he said, noting the man remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

“Any time you have a drug-seeking individual in the public who is armed, certainly does cause a threat,” Segorski said.

In addition to several public safety officers responding to the scene, the department was assisted by the Delta County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police Post from Gladstone.

Officers surrounded the building and secured the block, knowing the employees had managed to escape from the building but unsure of the whereabouts of the armed robber, said Segorski.

“Nobody had seen him exit. To the best of our information, it was certainly possible the suspect was inside,” he explained. “In our initial response, we were treating it like a barricaded gunman.”

Police armed with high-powered rifles kept watch on the exterior of the building and the entire 1200 block area. Witnesses were interviewed by detectives in an effort to get information about the gunman and the robbery.

“We did everything we could to determine if anyone was held hostage inside,” Segorski said.

After about three and a half hours of officers securing the perimeter, a team of Escanaba Public Safety officers entered the business with the department’s K-9 Dag clearing the building first, explained Segorski.

The suspect was not located inside during the search of the interior. The area was taped off from the public so officers could conduct an investigation. Police cleared the scene at 7 p.m.

Segorski said tips on the case have been coming into the department through telephone calls, Facebook, and interviews. Each tip is being investigated further.

“We continue to take tips from the public. We appreciate the tips. Tips often are what solves a case,” said Segorski, also noting there will be a monetary reward for information leading to the arrest of the robber. The amount of the reward will be announced later.

Looking back on Wednesday’s situation, Segorski said he was pleased with how the joint police operation was handled in the incident downtown.

“The operations went very well in the cumulative effort between the three law enforcement agencies,” Segorski said, explaining how everyone followed a plan and worked together.

“It’s a credit to the officers in our area. We certainly push in working together,” he added. “It went very well – nobody got hurt.”

Segorski also noted the public was very cooperative during the ordeal. Public Safety had issued public service announcements on radio stations to alert people to stay out of the area.

The entire 1200 block of Ludington Street and its perimeter was off limits to the public including drivers. Some people in neighboring buildings were evacuated.

Peoples Drug Store is now open for business as police continue their investigation into the armed robbery. Surveillance video is being reviewed to create an accurate description of the male suspect, said Segorski.