Reward offered in robbery Durham’s The Pit

May. 19, 2014 @ 03:22 PM

Three armed men burst in through a back door of The Pit restaurant on Geer Street about 9 p.m. Sunday, demanding access to the safe.

Out front, employees ushered about 20 guests to safety outside.

“While our employees cleared out the guests, in the back the robbers were working with a manager to get into the safe,” said Greg Hatem, owner of the restaurant. “They were able to leave with a small cash box.”

All in all, Hatem said, the robbers were in the restaurant for about two minutes. During the incident, two employees were hurt. One went to the hospital and was treated and released, he said. The other never sought medical attention.

“First and foremost, we’re glad everyone was okay,” Hatem said. “It was a very unfortunate incident and we wanted to make sure our employees and guests were safe.”

The restaurant opened on Geer Street – just down the street from a Durham Police Department substation - in November 2013. Nothing like this had happened so far, Hatem said.

“It’s such a great neighborhood,” he said. “What happened is not representative of the neighborhood. Everyone around here takes this a little personally. We’ve got a number of people trying to help us catch these guys.”

Steve Graff urged other residents on the Old West Durham neighborhood email list to help police track down the robbers.

“I’m disappointed that some individuals would resort to violence, assaulting employees of The Pit as part of this robbery,” Graff said. “I expect that the police department, and the community as a whole, will come together to identify and apprehend those involved in this crime, and work towards preventing such events from occurring in the future.”

On Monday, Hatem announced that he’s offering a $2,000 reward in addition to what CrimeStopper gives to people who help with the capture and conviction of felony suspects.

Police investigators described at least two of the suspects as black men in their 20s to early 30s, between 5 feet 8 and 5 feet 10. They wore masks and hooded sweatshirts – one green and the other black. The third suspect is described only as male.

The restaurant was back open on Monday at lunch time, business as usual, Hatem said.

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