An employee of American Gold, at 1025 Black Lake Blvd., said he feared for his life Thursday morning when a man dressed as a construction worker walked in and pulled a handgun from a bucket.
The suspect, who was wearing a construction helmet, an orange reflective vest, sunglasses and a breathing apparatus to cover his face, ordered Taylor Benshoof to a back room. The suspect then had Benshoof lie on his stomach and tied him up. The suspect escaped with a money bag, Benshoof said.
Benshoof, 22, who has worked as a gold and precious-metals buyer at the shop for about two years, said he was able to pull his cellphone from his front pocket and call 911.
“I was able to pull it out with my two fingers,” he said. He said he whispered to dispatchers, even though the suspect might already have departed.
“I thought he was going to kill me,” Benshoof said. “It sucks when you can’t go to work without having a gun pulled to your head.”
The suspect returned to the back room once to ask Benshoof, “How much time do I got?”
The robbery took about three minutes, Benshoof added.
Olympia Police Sgt. Aaron Jelcick said Benshoof and employees of neighboring businesses had noticed a man dressed in construction gear over the past week. Detectives think it was the suspect, casing American Gold.
After the robbery, the suspect was seen getting into the passenger side of a white Ford Econoline van with no windows on the side, Jelcick said. Detectives think he might have had an accomplice.
Detectives have surveillance video that shows the suspect during the robbery, Jelcick said, adding that detectives are looking for anyone who might have seen the man in the past week.
Benshoof said the man walked in about 11 a.m. and asked him if he could move his vehicle so he could repaint the parking space lines outside.
Benshoof said that as he got up, the man reached for a pistol and pointed it straight at Benshoof’s head.
Benshoof said he has a “panic button” under his desk but didn’t have the opportunity to press it.
“I didn’t expect anything until I got up and he pulled out the gun,” he said.
American Gold deals primarily in buying and selling precious metals, including gold and silver, Jelcick said. A sign outside the store says it also deals in diamonds.
There have been no other recent robberies involving a similar ruse as Thursday’s, Jelcick added.
The suspect is stocky and appears to be 40 to 50 years old, Jelcick said.
“I hope this guy gets arrested; it’s not right,” Benshoof said.