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Columbia police respond to two armed robberies

Columbia police are investigating two armed robberies that happened Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

The first happened before 9 p.m. Tuesday at Patricia’s IGA on North Keene Street. Police say a man walked into the store wearing a Halloween mask, demanded money from a clerk, then took off running.

A few hours later, at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to another armed robbery at La Quinta Inn & Suites on I-70 Drive Southwest. This case was similar to the previous robbery, as a man walked into the lobby wearing a Halloween mask, demanded money, then took off running.

Although the two robberies are alike, police are not sure if they are related.

Latisha Stroer, Columbia Police Department: “Both of them are similar, in that both the suspects wore Halloween masks. We just can’t say it’s the same suspect at this time because there’s no height, weight, age.”

The general manager of La Quinta Inn and Suites said the man took $70 from the drawer at the front desk and then made the clerk take him back to the hotel’s safe.

The safe has a delay on it, so he only got another $40 from it before getting impatient and leaving.

The general manager said the front desk employee was in tears when she talked to her, obviously very shaken up by the experience.

She said La Quinta is taking a couple of extra safety measures because of the robbery. They are having someone come in later this week to look at the front entrance locks. And they will be moving the video surveillance monitors from a back office to the front desk.

Officer Storoer said Halloween mask robberies are uncommon in Columbia.

Stroer: “We don’t really see this. We do see robberies of this nature around the holidays though.”

Employees at Patricia’s IGA said they have no comment on that robbery.

Police say no one was hurt in either incident and the investigations are ongoing.

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